EMA director details first hand account of Eastman scene; first saw explosion on WJHL

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KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – A day after explosions at Eastman’s Kingsport manufacturing plant, clean-up is now underway.

Eastman issued a statement Thursday saying they’re working to develop a plan to repair the facility after confirming two explosions erupted in their coal gasification operations.

For many people that live and work in Kingsport, their days Wednesday started with confusion and panic. For Sullivan County Emergency Management Director Jim Bean, his day started with phone calls, and several of them.

“Talking to as many people as possible trying to see what was going on,” Bean said.

Bean eventually went to Eastman seeking more precise information.

“I decided at that point just to drive down there, and it was going to be easier to get some information from down there,” said Bean.

He responded to a scene that he said he saw for the first time captured on WJHL.

“Everybody said there’s actual video of the explosion, turn to WJHL’s live feed from Bays Mountain.”

Bean stayed on Eastman property until night time.

“We were just sending firefighters by truck into the scene, and they would come back out. They were rotating in and out, so that’s literally all you saw was that,” he said.

Still, Bean said he doesn’t know the extent of the damage or what exactly caused Thursday’s blast.

“That’s still outside of me. That’s something Eastman will have to refer to,” said Bean.

Moving forward he is hoping to improve communication.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re all coordinating,” said Bean.

Bean said he is also feeling thankful no one was hurt. “I think it’s nothing short of a miracle that none of those men and women were not injured,” he said.

Bean said Kingsport fire fighters and Sullivan County EMS continued to provide support to Eastman crews as needed today assisting in any day to day calls.Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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