Wacker chemical plant sees third incident in two weeks

Wacker chemical plant sees third incident in two weeks

September 12th, 2017 by Emmett Gienapp in Breaking News

Clouds billow from the Wacker polysilicon chemical plant after an explosion released a hydrogen chemical gas on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, in Charleston, Tenn. The explosion closed the plant, but a statement from Wacker says air quality was unaffected.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

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Alarms went off for the third time in two weeks at the Wacker Chemical Plant in Charleston, Tenn., on Tuesday, causing employees to again take shelter onsite.

A release from the company stated workers detected "a slight elevation of residual chemicals stemming from the September 7 incident."

"According to emergency protocol and precautionary measures, Wacker issued an onsite shelter in place, which has been lifted. There was no risk to the community or employees," the statement read.

"Safety is our top priority along with the care and well-being of our employees and our community. Our commitment to safety remains our primary focus."

A separate release from Bradley County Schools stated alarms were set off while work was being done on "damaged pipes with chemical residue."

"There is no threat to our schools or the community. Bradley County Safety Director and the Director of [Emergency Management] have been in contact with representatives from Wacker," the statement read.

This most recent incident comes less than a week after a chemical explosion Thursday that sent a cloud of hydrochloric acid into the air and several injured people to the hospital. The same substance was also involved in an Aug. 30 incident incident that injured five plant workers. 

Thursday's explosion shut down Interstate 75 and local roads for fear of exposure the acid and law enforcement agencies warned people to take shelter indoors and turn off air conditioners.

In total, a plant worker, a firefighter, four deputies and seven local residents were treated at hospitals as a result of the incident.

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This story was updated Sept. 12 at 11:59 p.m.