Chemical Reaction Eyed as Plant Blast Cause

Friday, August 16, 2013 @ 06:08 PM gHale

A chemical reaction may be the cause behind a huge fire at a chemical recycling plant in Valdosta, GA, Wednesday that left three people injured.

Firefighters estimate 75 percent of the Perma Fix Environmental Services plant ended up destroyed.

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“Having this conversation with the plant manager, he’s really unsure what the next step will be. They’re stunned I guess is what I’d say,” said Capt. John Wisenbaker, Valdosta Fire Marshal.

Officials said 10 employees were in the plant when it exploded Wednesday afternoon. Charlie Curry and Stan Williams ended up airlifted to Shands Hospital in Florida. Perma-Fix reps are not releasing any information on the victims but say they are in stable condition.

“It’s extremely unfortunate, we are very concerned about our employees and we’re going to do everything we can to support them and their families,” said Anne Smith, Perma-Fix Communications Director.

Fire investigators entered the plant Thursday to start a preliminary investigation.

“Right now we’re in the early stages of trying to find out what chemicals it was and right now we believe it might have been some kind of chemical reaction,” Wisenbaker said.

Wisenbaker said the main concern was the large oil tanks from Georgia Petroleum catching on fire. They used water to keep the tanks cool and managed to keep the fire from spreading. “It was numerous explosions. You have 55 gallon drums exploding, I estimate probably a thousand of them probably exploded.”

Wisenbaker said it was the largest explosion he ever saw, but thankfully there were no fatalities.

The other injured employee, Jamey Mitchell, ended up treated at South Georgia Medical Center and released.

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