A chemical plant explosion in Belle, West Virginia has killed one person and left four more people injured. The blast occurred at about 10 p.m. Tuesday night at a section of the Chemours chemical plant that’s currently used by Optima Belle Chemical. A shelter-in-place order was created by the Kanawha County Commission and it remained active for a 2-mile radius until early Wednesday morning.
What Caused the Chemours Plant Explosion?
Initially, Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper told reporters that he believed the incident originated on a barge in the neighboring Kanawha River. However, it was later confirmed that the blast originated from within the plant. CW Sigman, the Kanawha County Emergency Management Director, confirmed that chlorinated bleach and methanol were part of the explosion.
The incident happened in a section of the Chemours plant that’s used by Optima Chemical. According to the company’s site, Optima is a “full service chemical company" that can accomplish "sensitive chemistry safely at a large scale."
Officials had to wait for the resulting fire to burn out before they could enter the plant. They were able to assess the situation just after 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning, enabling the shelter-in-place order to be lifted for nearby residents.
A video shared by a Belle homeowner reveals how strong the explosion was. In the video, the blast can be heard as the interior of a home shakes from its force. Reports indicate that the explosion was powerful enough to send chunks of metal hurtling through the air.
Carper confirmed that three people were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and that the fourth sought medical assistance independently. Of the injured, two of them were taken from within the plant and at least one of them was severely injured. The family of the deceased worker released a statement asking for prayers. A benefit account has been established for the grieving family.
Our chemical plant explosion lawyers will continue to follow this story as more details are revealed by officials.