CHARLESTON, Tenn. (WATE/AP) — Bradley County Schools says it will be closed Friday “in consideration for the safety of our families” after an explosion at Wacker chemical plant Thursday.
James Bradford of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office says a firefighter responding to the Wacker chemical plant has been taken to a nearby hospital due to “heat exhaustion.” This after a second leak at the plant Thursday evening.
Tennova Health says that eight patients have so far been admitted to the emergency room with minor irritations related to the incident.
In addition, the Tennessee Highway Patrol is reopening the busy Interstate 75 corridor between Chattanooga and Knoxville. Spokesman Lt. Bill Miller says the interstate was closed in both directions on Thursday afternoon when emergency crews responded to what they called a chemical emergency at the Wacker Polysilicon plant in Charleston, about 30 miles northeast of Chattanooga.
We also reached out to the Tennessee Occupational and Health Safety Administration to ask if they had been contacted about the explosion.
TOSHA responded that they are aware of the incident, and will combine both this investigation with their investigation into last Thursday’s incident at the plant in which five people were injured.
Bradley County EMA says because of a wind shift near the plant, residents living up to 1.5 miles south of Wacker were ordered to stay inside and not use their AC units. . But later that evening emergency officials lifted a shelter-in-place order.
Previously crews closed Lauderdale Memorial Highway between Highway 11 and I-75. Bill Toth, Director of Corporate Communications for Wacker could not answer initially when asked if there is a danger to the public, but he said they were busy “mitigating the incident,” and will release a statement later.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that five workers at the plant last week suffered chemical burns from the release of silane, a highly flammable compressed gas.
Wacker in June began a $150 million expansion of the sprawling $2.5 billion plant.
The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office released a statement about an explosion at the Wacker chemical plant in Charleston, Tennessee Wednesday afternoon around 4 p.m.
At approximately 4:00 p.m. an alleged explosion was reported to the 911 Communications Center from residents around Wacker Polysilicon, located in Charleston, TN.
Upon arrival, first-responders were able to determine a mechanical failure caused a plume of low-concentrated hydrochloric acid to form a cloud that was visible within a portion within the Charleston area.
Students from Walker Valley High School students sheltered in place and Charleston Elementary School students were transported to Ocoee Middle School for pickup by parents.
Additionally, residents within the Charleston area were advised to shelter in place and turn off H.V.A.C. systems to minimize exposure.Representatives from Wacker Polysilicon and area first-responders were able to evaluate
the incident in order to communicate the precautionary procedures to ensure the safety of the community.Earlier reports advised there were no injuries at the facility; however medical responders
were able to locate one patient at the facility needing medical assistance. At this time weare unable to determine if the patient’s injuries are related to the incident or health related.
CHARLESTON RESIDENTS HAVE BEEN ADVISED THE “SHELTER INPLACE” ADVISORY HAS BEEN LIFTED BY BRADLEY COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY!
An official media release from Wacker Polysilicon will disseminated once their internal investigation has concluded.
First responders say they were able to determine that a mechanical failure created a cloud of low-concentrated hydrochloric acid to form.Bradley County Emergency Management Agency advised people to avoid the Charleston, Tenn. area.
Several citizens there have reported hearing sounds of an explosion and feeling the ground shake.
This is the second time in one week the Wacker Chemical plant has experienced an incident.