NOTE: THIS IS OUR ORIGINAL REPORT FROM OCTOBER 4, 2017
Area law enforcement officials confirmed that a portion of Jared Drive that borders Eastman Chemical is still closed and will remain closed throughout the night until sometime on Friday at the earliest.
TDEC Communications Director Eric Ward issued the following statement to News Channel 11:
Eastman has been in communication with TDEC staff regarding the incident, including its initial notification. They are required to provide an incident assessment to the department under our air regulations. We can provide more specific information tomorrow regarding all of the reporting requirements, deadlines, etc. We are investigating the cause of the incident and any potential impacts to the environment.”
On Thursday, Eastman officials issued a statement thanking first responders and the community for quickly responding to yesterday morning’s explosion at the plant.
Eastman officials added that they are still in the process of accessing the impact of the explosion and that they are working to develop a plan to repair the facility.
The following is the full statement from Eastman:
Eastman would like to thank first responders and our community for their quick response and understanding during yesterday’s event. We want to inform you that we are continuing to assess what happened at our Kingsport site and are developing a plan to repair the facility. Some operations at the Kingsport site were idled immediately following the event as a precaution; however, unaffected areas are making good progress towards resuming normal operations.
The support of this community and region is deeply valued by Eastman. We will continue to keep you informed as we learn more. Please refer to eastman.com for further updates.”
Previous story from 10-4-17:
10 p.m.: Kingsport dispatchers confirmed to News Channel 11 that the intersection of Jared Drive and Moreland Drive is still closed to traffic.
8:50 p.m.: Eastman officials issued another news release this evening, saying they are continuing to assess the impact to operations and to the business, and said they appreciate the community’s cooperation during this time.
About 10:40 a.m. on Wednesday, October 4, 2017, Eastman experienced a process startup upset as we were performing an equipment swap in our coal gasification operations that caused two explosions and a fire.
We realize an event such as this causes concern to our employees, their families and our community neighbors and we truly appreciate everyone’s cooperation as we work to determine exactly what happened and the cause. Safety is a top priority for Eastman, and the company has robust safety processes in place to protect our employees, community and environment in the occurrence of an unplanned event.
Out of an abundance of caution, we issued a shelter in place for our near neighbors and our employees and contractors. The shelter in place has now been lifted. All personnel at Eastman’s Kingsport site are doing a tremendous job in responding to today’s events. There were no injuries beyond first aid and the company anticipates no impact to human health or the long-term impact to the environment as a result of this incident.
We continue to assess the impact to operations and to the business. Some operations at the Kingsport site were idled following the event as a precaution; however, unaffected areas are now in the process of safely restarting. We are currently assessing the impact to coal gasification operation and the acetyl stream.
We will provide updates as they become available.”
News Channel 11’s Curtis McCloud was at a news conference at Eastman Chemical, where he was told that crews are still analyzing and assessing the process upset that happened earlier Wednesday morning.
Eastman Chief Legal Officer David Golden told us during the news conference that emissions were released during the explosion.
Golden: There were emissions released but none that posed a risk.
McCloud: Can you talk about what type of emissions were released at this point?
Golden: Generally, the emissions associated with the process, so carbon monoxide and hydrogen would be two.
Eastman officials will hold a media briefing at 5:30 p.m. at the Toy F. Reid Employee Center in Kingsport.
Kingsport Police Department officials told us around 4:30 p.m. that officers were preparing to resume normal traffic on all roads around Eastman Chemical with the exception of Jared Drive, which will remain closed for the remainder of the afternoon/evening.
Eastman Chemical officials confirmed that a precautionary shelter in place has been removed for most personnel at the Kingsport site.
Eastman has removed the precautionary shelter in place advisory for most personnel at its Kingsport site. We’ve also removed the precautionary shelter in place for the surrounding community within a half-mile radius. Eastman’s near neighbors can resume all normal activities. We appreciate the cooperation from all our neighbors and community during this time. In an event like this, we take every precaution to ensure the safety of our employees and our site neighbors.
3:20 p.m.: Eastman Chemical officials have asked that anyone in a half-mile radius of the intersection of John B. Dennis and Moreland Drive to remain sheltered in place.
We’re continuing to stabilize and assess the situation. Neighbors within a half-mile radius of the intersection of John B. Dennis and Moreland Drive, and personnel inside the Kingsport plant perimeter are being asked to remain sheltered in place until further notice. We will continue to provide updates as they become available.
Kingsport Police Department spokesman Tom Patton told News Channel 11’s Josh Smith that Eastman officials called Kingsport police back to the scene to shut down all vehicle and pedestrian traffic indefinitely with a half mile of the incident.
Patton told us parts of John B. Dennis, Lincoln, Moreland and Jared roads, as well as connectors, will likely be impacted and will impact traffic through those areas.
A spokesperson with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation confirmed with News Channel 11’s Sydney Cameron that they were notified of the incident at Eastman and that they are closely monitoring the situation.
Here is the full statement from TDEC:
TDEC has been notified of the incident at Eastman Chemical Company. We are closely monitoring the situation and working with local agencies to provide technical expertise as needed. All incident-related inquiries should be directed to the local EMA office at (423) 323-6912 or Eastman at this time.”
Eastman officials issued another media advisory just after 2 p.m., saying there were no injuries reported beyond first aid and said they are continuing to follow safety protocols to assess and secure the area.
Around 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, Eastman experienced a process upset in the coal gasification area of its Kingsport, Tenn., manufacturing site. There have been no injuries reported beyond first aid. We’re following all safety protocols to assess and secure the area. We’re working to determine the cause and assess the impact to operations and the business.
We’ll provide more information as it becomes available.”
We’ve obtained a copy of the Kingsport reverse 911 call.
Click on the video below to see the raw video of the explosion:
News Channel 11’s Justin Soto was told by Sullivan County Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski that schools in the immediate vicinity of Eastman were staying indoors and the HVAC unit were turned off as a precaution.
Rafalowski told us later that those schools, located in the south, north zones, as well as Indian Springs, were no longer sheltering in place.
South Zone schools include South High School, Sullivan K-8, Miller Perry Elementary, Colonial Heights Middle and Rock Springs Elementary.
North Zone schools include North High School, North Middle School and Ketron Elementary.
Kingsport City Schools spokesperson told News Channel 11’s Karissa Winstead that the school system is back to normal operations following the new information from Eastman.
News Channel 11’s Curtis McCloud said the portion of John B. Dennis and Moreland Drive has been reopened to traffic.
Eastman officials confirmed that they have removed the precautionary shelter in place advisory for its corporate campus and surrounding community, except for those in a one-half-mile radius of the intersection of John B. Dennis and Moreland Drive in Kingsport:
UPDATE at 12PM: Eastman Chemical officials released this statement just before noon telling people living nearby to stay indoors, and are advising people to turn off their heating and air conditioning in their homes.
Around 10:00 a.m., Eastman experienced a process upset in the coal gasification area of its Kingsport manufacturing site. The upset created a loud noise and a visible plume. No one was injured.
In an excess of caution, our employees are currently sheltered in place as we are working to secure the area. Until more information is known, near neighbors are advised to do the same. That means to stay indoors, turn off your HVAC system. More information will be updated on eastman.com, the Eastman Careline 423-229-CARE and local media.
We have reported the incident to the proper regulatory authorities.
Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesperson Mark Nagi confirmed on Twitter that State Route 93 in Sullivan County is closed at Moreland Road due to the explosion at Eastman. He said that traffic is currently being diverted.
News Channel 11’s Karissa Winstead said Northeast State Community College has also been advised to shelter in place.
We learned earlier that Kingsport City Schools were also ordered to shelter in place.
News Channel 11’s Jordan Moore heard from officials with the Sullivan County Regional Health Department that the Kingsport Health Department will be closing immediately and won’t be seeing patients this afternoon. Sullivan County health officials said their staff would be contacting patients about their appointments.
KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – Tom Patton with the Kingsport Police Department says emergency crews are responding to a report of an explosion at Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport.
Patton says the Kingsport Fire Department and Sullivan County EMS have been dispatched.
A Kingsport City School spokesperson said schools have been ordered to shelter in place.
Our crew heading to Kingsport said KPD officers have blocked a portion of John B. Dennis near the McDonalds.
No further details have been made available.
News Channel 11 will continue to monitor this developing situation and will bring you the latest information online and on-air.
If you are reading this on a mobile device, click here to watch a live stream from the site of the explosion.