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“Process Upset” Causes Explosion at Tennessee Chemical Plant

October 4, 2017
The Eastman Chemical manufacturing site in Kingsport, TN. Image courtesy of Google Maps
The Eastman Chemical manufacturing site in Kingsport, TN. Image courtesy of Google Maps

Advanced materials and specialty additives producer Eastman Chemical Company is blaming a “process upset” for causing a reported explosion at its chemical plant in Kingsport, TN on Wednesday. No injuries were reported in the wake of the incident, but the company and local officials issued a shelter-in-place order for some area residents as responders work to safeguard the site.

“Around 10:00 a.m., Eastman experienced a process upset in the coal gasification area of its Kingsport manufacturing site. The upset created a loud noise and a visible plume,” a statement released by the company said.

A shelter-in-place order was initially issued for employees at the facility and residents of the surrounding area, but was later reduced to those within a half-mile of the plant. A call to residents Wednesday afternoon said no chemicals had been released from the site, according to updates published by NBC News affiliate WCYB.

“We’re following all safety protocols to assess and secure the area. We’re working to determine the cause and assess the impact to operations and the business,” the company said in an update posted to its website at 2:07 p.m. ET.

The television news station noted that the explosion took place on the same date as an explosion at the site in 1960 that resulted in the death of 16 workers.

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Eastman, which is headquartered in Kingsport, said the incident has been reported to regulatory agencies and authorities.