Chem Co. Suffers Blast in New Haven

Tuesday, December 27, 2016 @ 12:12 PM gHale

A gas explosion rocked the area around Welton Street in New Haven, CT, late Thursday morning, but there were no injuries, fire officials said.

There was an explosion at the New Haven Chlor-Alkali building, a chemical storage and transport facility at 73 Welton St. at 11:29 a.m., said city Fire Chief John Alston.

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There were two people in the building near the explosion; both ended up treated at the scene and released.

“They were in shock,” Alston said. “But there were no physical injuries.”

It is unclear how many other people were in the building, but Alston said everyone ended up accounted for.

There are only two forms of gas in the building, hydrogen and natural gas, and drone photos provided by the city show hydrogen tanks in the area where the explosion occurred, but Alston said the cause and nature of the explosion remain undeclared.

“The incident is still under investigation,” Fire Marshal Robert Doyle said. “We are working with multiple agencies, including the state fire and explosion unit, DEEP (state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection), (federal) OSHA, along with cooperation with the business owners and representatives. We are looking at everything and it’s going to take some time to complete this investigation. There were no injuries reported to civilians or firefighters.”

There was extensive damage to the rear of the building, where they were storing sodium bisulfite. Alston said a container with the chemical ruptured in the explosion. Although the chemical is an irritant that is dangerous to inhale, Alston said there was no risk to the public. An investigation team was checking to see whether any other chemical ended up exposed to the open air.

The windows of a house located next to the building shattered and the homes within 1,500 feet from the building evacuated. Power temporarily was lost but restored shortly after, Alston said.

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