Advisory lifted second time after explosion at Wacker

Advisory lifted second time after explosion at Wacker

September 8th, 2017 by Rosana Hughes in Breaking News

Mary-Beth Hudson, vice president and site manager for Wacker, and Troy Spence, director of Bradley County Emergency Management Agency, speak at joint press conference following an explosion at Wacker Polysilicon plant late Thursday afternoon.

Photo by Rosana Hughes /Times Free Press.

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In a joint press conference, officials addressed concerns about the explosion that happened at Wacker Polysilicon plant late Thursday afternoon.

Although Mary-Beth Hudson, vice president and site manager for Wacker, said the company is still working to ensure that the chemical release is contained, she and Troy Spence, director of Bradley County Emergency Management Agency, said it is safe for people to resume to normal activities. This was the second time the advisory was lifted Thursday.

Despite officials saying there was no threat to the public, seven people were taken to a local hospital by personal vehicle for treatment of irritants, Spence said. He did not know what the status of those patients were.

Hudson said she did not think it could be speculated why they were taken to the hospital, which is why she could not say whether the irritations were caused by the chemical release.

Spence said officials have been driving around the area, carefully monitoring air conditions.

Bradley County Schools will be closed on Friday "as an abundance of precaution," per a decision made by Linda Cash, director of schools, Spence said.

Hudson did not immediately know if the Environmental Protection Agency will be investigating. She said, based on the information she had at the time, the quantities of chemical released were far below the EPA's threshold for reporting.

There was quite a bit of structural damage to the plant, Hudson said. Some of the piping was damaged. She said employees will be expected to come to work Friday to help in the assessment.

Hudson said the company's primary concern is safety. Every measure the company took was to ensure the public's safety, "even though it may seem scary."

The company will conduct a "thorough, root cause investigation implement corrective actions," Hudson said. Additional employee training will take place before the company resumes regular operations.

Thursday's explosion was the second incident at the plant in eight days. Those two incidents "were completely unrelated," Hudson said.