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Archive for Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Kansas City chemical plant erupts in explosions

Smoke could be seen for miles

February 7, 2007, 3:12 p.m. Updated February 7, 2007, 5:06 p.m.

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— Multiple explosions at a chemical distribution facility shook an industrial area of Kansas City on Wednesday, sending an ominous smoke cloud above the downtown skyline and prompting the evacuation of nearby schools, homes and businesses.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, but police were busy driving up and down nearby streets warning that more explosions were expected at the Chemcentral facility, which stores and distributes various chemicals and solvents.

Fire officials also told residents throughout the city to avoid picking up debris carried by the dark cloud that streamed out of downtown, although Fire Chief Richard Dyer said the material was not highly toxic. The cloud appeared to be dropping a sticky substance as it moved to the southwest. Dyer said it was unlikely that anything falling was dangerous, but officials urged caution anyway.

"None of these are what those of us in the field would call exotic chemicals. None of these have a high rating for toxicity," he said, adding that officials were monitoring the air within a two-mile radius.

Ken Hannon, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said a number of chemicals are at the property, including mineral spirits, turpentine and other solvents.

"I'm looking through the list. I'm not seeing anything that's jumping out at me" as particularly hazardous, he said. "Flammability seems to be the main concern right now for most of these chemicals."

The explosions northeast of downtown sent up smoke that could be seen for at least 30 miles around the city.

Dyer said officials were evacuating people within a one-mile radius of the plant, including about 500 people who lived in area, and officials had gone door-to-door through several blocks to get people out. A shelter was being set up at North Kansas City High School.

Dyer said firefighters had abandoned attempts to fight the blaze and would just let it die out, hopefully by Thursday morning, although it could burn for a few days.

The fire began after several 55-gallon drums containing chemicals exploded, touching off more explosions and fires, Kansas City Fire Marshal Floyd Peoples said. Dyer said steam was seen from three, 30,000-gallon tankers, but they apparently did not explode.

Plant superintendent Craig Nienhueser said workers heard a hissing noise inside the building. He went around to the back and noticed some flames, at which point the workers were evacuated.

"We are just thankful everybody is OK. Now we just have to work with the fire department to get this contained.

"Fifty-some years and not a problem," he said of the facility.

Dan Brennan, an attorney at Chemcentral's headquarters in Bedford Park, Ill., said the plant has 15 to 20 workers.

Emergency responders from the Environmental Protection Agency were on the scene and gathering information.

"We just don't know what's up there at this point," EPA spokeswoman Kim Olson said.

The Kansas City school district sent students from eight elementary schools in the northeast area to Paseo High School to keep them as far away from the explosions as possible, a district spokeswoman said.

Kansas City Southern shut down its rail yard operation near the plant and evacuated workers as a precaution.

Dyer said the Chemcentral facility did not have a history of problems, but it is a location that has always troubled the fire department because of its proximity to a casino and residential neighborhoods.

"It's a well-run facility with a pretty darn good safety record," he said. "When you ask if it's something that comes up as a problem facility - absolutely not."

Comments

bearded_gnome 7 years, 2 months ago

AP, via the SJ merc news:

Despite 2004 ruling, Mexican truck travel still limited

LYNN BREZOSKY

Associated Press

LOS INDIOS, Texas - Mexican trucker Brigido Moctezuma lives in a city on Mexico's northern border, far from talks on whether he'll be able to drive his loads of vehicle air bags all the way to assembly lines in Detroit.

All he knows is that he and his boss' fleet of trucks are ready, and have been for years.

"The line is ready. We've bought many new trucks; everything is in good order," he said. "But it seems like every time it almost happens that we can go, it doesn't."

Access to all U.S. highways was promised by the year 2000 under the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement, as was access through Mexico for U.S. carriers. A similar exchange with Canada has been carried out without a hitch.

But U.S. trucking companies, unions and environmental groups blame Mexico's loosely regulated trucking industry. They contend that trucks used by Mexican carriers are older and poorly maintained, the result of that country's less stringent environmental and safety standards. The provision will cost Americans thousands of jobs, pollute the air, damage highways and threaten national security, they say.

Mexican carriers insist their rigs meet U.S. standards. ^ and have been trying to get restrictions lifted.

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gccs14r 7 years, 2 months ago

EPA has been eviscerated by 25 years of Republicanism. We need the EPA we had in the 70s.

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bearded_gnome 7 years, 2 months ago

LOL. kudos to Jonas!


shady: not just rail cars at that plant.

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jonas 7 years, 2 months ago

"Posted by emilyhadley (Emily Hadley) on February 7, 2007 at 4:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It was ChemCentral at the end of North Prospect, near the intersection with Nicholson Avenue. Pretty big and very nasty."

This might be the biggest chemical accident involving a Nicholson since the one that made the joker!

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shadower 7 years, 2 months ago

gnome, don't think they are using mexican drivers to deliver individual rail cars. course, don't want to spoil your mindless rant.

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Stephen 7 years, 2 months ago

I used to have to drive past the east bottoms on my way to work when I lived there, its pretty sad. Keep an on that cloud!

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bearded_gnome 7 years, 2 months ago

"None of these are what those of us in the field would call exotic chemicals. None of these have a high rating for toxicity," he said, adding that officials were monitoring the air within a two-mile radius.

"we just don't know ..."

wow, really inspires some confidence!


was one of them there tankers one of the poorly maintained mexican trucks on our roads? perhaps that or a poorly trained mexican driver caused the flames? wonder.

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stopthenoise 7 years, 2 months ago

My friend who works for the EPA says it's a slug farm.
He says millions of dollars are wasted every year. Good thing Bush is cutting their budget by 5%.

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Marion Lynn 7 years, 2 months ago

The EPA isn't very smart.

I found online what the EPA says that it does not know.

http://oaspub.epa.gov/enviro/tris_control.tris_print?tris_id=64120CHMCN910NP

It is time for the EPA to go.

Thanks.

Marion.

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ASBESTOS 7 years, 2 months ago

"Thank goodness the wind is out of the NW."

That is just dumb, yes it won't come to Lawrence, however it is going to cover a larger and more densely populated KC Metro Area.

Nice comment there!

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ASBESTOS 7 years, 2 months ago

This is pathetic ans shows that EPA Region 7 Needs to be overhauled. The EPA has the Community Right to Know Law and the Environmental DIsaster Response Plan that is REQUIRED by law to be on FILE AT THE EPA REGION 7 HQ. YEt here is a spokesman from the EPA:

"Emergency responders from the Environmental Protection Agency were on the scene and gathering information.

"We just don't know what's up there at this point," EPA spokeswoman Kim Olson said."

Here is a response from the Mo DNR , as it seems to know what is there at the plant"

"Ken Hannon, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said a number of chemicals are at the property, including mineral spirits, turpentine and other solvents."

My question is IF EPA does not know what is there, and the State of MO regulators DO know, what in the HELL is EPA doing there in the lead????? Another as[ect of the EPOA wanting to be the "Hawg with the big balls" on site and sucking up the limelight and the dollars.

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75x55 7 years, 2 months ago

Nope - a hissing sound is not a good thing.... never a good sign.

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Pilgrim 7 years, 2 months ago

Posted by Stephen (anonymous) on February 7, 2007 at 4:45 p.m.

Yeah, what chemicals are we talking about here, thats a pretty nasty cloud O smoke packed with them there chemicals, and your talken about 1 square mile being told to scram


Mostly paint thinners, solvents, etc.

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Dambudzo 7 years, 2 months ago

Thank goodness the wind is out of the NW.

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Stephen 7 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, what chemicals are we talking about here, thats a pretty nasty cloud O smoke packed with them there chemicals, and your talken about 1 square mile being told to scram

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Emily Hadley 7 years, 2 months ago

It was ChemCentral at the end of North Prospect, near the intersection with Nicholson Avenue. Pretty big and very nasty.

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