Blast Hits GA Aluminum Plant

Friday, July 1, 2016 @ 04:07 PM gHale


The casting area of aluminum extruder Bonnell Aluminum’s Newnan, GA, extrusion plant will remain shut until an investigation into the cause of a Wednesday morning explosion that injured five people is complete, company officials said.

In addition to the five injuries, the blast forced the company to temporarily halt operations at the plant. The rest of the plant besides the casting area resumed operations Thursday morning, the company said.

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Emergency workers airlifted one employee to a hospital in Atlanta, two went to a local hospital and two ended up treated at the scene.

Bonnell, a subsidiary of Tredegar Corp., said it was working with local authorities and state regulators to determine the cause of the 9:15 a.m. explosion, adding that a structural engineering firm determined the rest of the plant was safe to operate following an inspection.

Extrusion is the process of shaping material, such as aluminum, by forcing it to flow through an opening in a die. Bonnell makes extrusions for the building and construction and automotive markets as well as for specialty applications like refrigerators and air conditioners.

Bonnell sold around 77,000 metric tons of aluminum extrusions in 2015, according to Tredegar’s full-year results report, released in February. That represented 4.7 percent of aluminum extrusion shipments in the United States and Canada of about 1.6 million metric tons, according to the Aluminum Association.

A prolonged outage at the plant could reduce the amount of primary and scrap aluminum consumed by the company. This could exacerbate a global glut that has sent prices tumbling about 30 percent from their 2014 peak.

A spokeswoman for the Newnan police said the blast was not a situation involving hazardous materials.