MI Recycling Center Blast Injures 1

Monday, June 26, 2017 @ 07:06 PM gHale

An explosion inside Kent County, MI, recycling facility sent one employee to a local medical center for evaluation.

The explosion occurred at 7:45 a.m. Thursday inside the Kent County Recycling and Education Center, located at 977 Wealthy St. SW in Grand Rapids, MI.

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The cause of the explosion was three small one-pound propane cylinders that made it into the facility’s baler. The center ceased operation for a few hours, but is now back up and running.

An employee suffered an injury when the worker “caught some of the concussion” from the explosion, said Kent County Department of Public Works Director Darwin Baas. The worker, who was taken to a local med center for observation and later released, did not suffer any serious injuries, Baas said.

“We’re fortunate that there were no serious injuries or no serious damage at this time,” he said.

The Grand Rapids Fire Department got the call, and county staff report they are working closely with the Grand Rapids Fire Prevention Bureau to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Baas pointed out that propane tanks have been an issue for the facility in the past.

“It’s almost like it’s not if, it’s when,” he said.

This week’s explosion comes three days short of the one-year anniversary of another propane tank-induced explosion. The explosion on June 25, 2016, knocked a worker to the ground and shut down operations at the center for four days.

The six-year-old facility has already seen a handful of service disruptions.

The county-run recycling facility was also taken offline on Dec. 14 after a small fire caused by an electrical short in plant equipment and again on Feb. 20 due to a mechanical malfunction involving the baler.

When the plant is shut down, Kent County diverts recyclable material to the county’s Waste to Energy facility, the incinerator located about a mile away along Market Avenue.

The county’s Department of Public Works reminds residents though they may be considered “disposable,” the small camping-style propane cylinders are not recyclable. With the summer camping season in full swing, staff urges citizens to dispose of empty tanks properly.

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