Chemical Plant Blast Investigation Continues

Thursday, March 24, 2011 @ 11:03 AM gHale

Investigators are still trying to find the cause of an explosion at a chemical plant that killed two workers in Rubbertown, KY, just outside of Louisville.

The explosion and ensuing fire started Monday afternoon at the Carbide Industries plant and the fire is still smoldering, fire officials said.

“There was a very large explosion that occurred about 5:40 p.m. (Monday) afternoon. It turned into a very large fire later on that evening which burned throughout the night, and you can see the residual smoldering right now,” said John Gant, the general manager of Carbide Industries.

The blast occurred in the furnace building at the plant. Officials continued to test to see if the black smoke coming from the plant is hazardous.

“Right now, it’s not posing any adverse effect on anybody in the community,” said Assistant Chief Jody Meiman, with the Lake Dreamland Fire Department.

“There doesn’t appear to be any immediate threats associated with what’s burning,” said Art Smith, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Still, the stubborn smoldering is disconcerting for some.

The chemical inside the building can’t come in contact with water. On Tuesday afternoon, a reconnaissance team determined the building isn’t safe enough for anyone to go inside and that there are several spot fires still burning.

So the strategy is to simply sit and wait.

“Now that we know where the fires are at and we do have proof that the building is structurally unsound, we’re not going to put anybody up. We’re going to back off and let it burn,” Meiman said.

State fire investigators and a representative from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration were also at the scene today as they begin investigations into the cause of the explosion.

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