Processing Magazine

Explosions cause serious damage at Georgia chemical plant

August 20, 2013

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A series of explosions occurred at a chemical plant in the city of Valdosta, Ga., on Aug. 14, injuring three people and causing fire at the site, the Valdosta Daily Times reported.

The Perma-Fix facility, located at the Azalea East Industrial Park, processes various chemicals, such as chloroform, benzene, arsenic, methyl ethyl ketone and vinyl chloride. Hours after the explosions, the company released a statement announcing that all 13 employees were accounted for. Of the three injured employees, two were still in hospital in stable condition, while another one had been released after treatment.

As the series of explosions continued, authorities decided to evacuate the area and close down the Azalea East Industrial Park. Initially, the gas supply to the facility could not be cut and several firefighters suffered respiratory problems while trying to put out the fire. Overall, it was estimated that as much as 75 percent of the plant was destroyed by the blasts.

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There are currently no suspicions of foul play but the investigation of the incident continues. Federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), together with police officers and arson investigators with the Valdosta Fire Department, have been looking into the cause of the blasts.

According to Ann Smith, Perma-Fix communications director, the company was "taking the incident very seriously" and was taking measures to improve safety for its employees and the community. Smith added that once Perma Fix had more information on the explosions, it would inform the public as soon as possible.