Chemical Plant Blast

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 @ 04:11 PM gHale

An explosion at a chemical plant in Colbert County, AL, sent a man to the hospital last week.

Emergency crews responded to the explosion at the Cherokee Nitrogen plant on Industrial Road last Tuesday at 10 p.m. Residents from as far as Lauderdale County reported they heard a loud boom. Some residents reported the noise shook their homes.

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Cherokee Plant General Manager Don Phillips said one employee suffered an injury and ended up at Helen Keller Hospital. The employee’s name and condition were not immediately available, but Phillips said his injuries were minor.

The explosion happened when a high pressure line ruptured as the plant was making ammonia, Phillips said. He said there was some damage to the plant, including some broken windows.

Phillips said the plant is conducting an investigation to determine what exactly caused the pressure line to burst. The investigation could take days and repairs to the plant could take weeks. Phillips attributed the loud explosion to the high-pressure nature of the ruptured line.

EMA Director Mike Melton said nothing leaked into the environment and any smells were from fumes.

Plant management estimates a three to five month outage at the ammonia plant while repairs are made.

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