Eastman: “Minor fire” in coal gas operations; no injuries reported

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KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – An Eastman Chemical Company spokesperson confirmed there was an equipment failure in the coal gas operations Thursday around 11 a.m.

Eastman’s Corporate of Communications Director Betty Payne said the equipment failure led to a quick depressurization of a gasifier and a minor fire occurred in the immediate area.

According to a National Response Center report, hydrogen sulfide — a flammable gas that is listed as extremely hazardous — and carbon monoxide were released in the incident.

The response center reportedly received a call around 12:15 p.m. from Eastman saying that a line ruptured on a processing unit and released a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide into the air. Eastman told News Channel 11 that no injuries were reported and there is no threat to human health or the environment.

News Channel 11 spoke with a man who says he saw the entire incident.   Lee Cowan says he was fishing today when he heard steam blowing off.  He told us that he worked at Eastman for 32 years and knew something bad was going to happen.   He says he heard an explosion and looked up and saw black smoke and fire.   He took the pictures you see here.   We sent the photos to an Eastman spokesperson who said the company is reviewing them and could not verify the authenticity.Copyright 2015 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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