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Equipment Failure Causes Explosion at Chemical Plant

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The equipment was being serviced by a vendor at the time the blast occurred at the Belle, WV facility.

Emergency personnel responded to the Kureha PGA LLC chemical unit at the Chemours complex in Belle, WV Wednesday morning after equipment exploded during maintenance work, according to officials and local news organizations.

“This morning around 8:40 a.m. at the area of the Kureha plant in Belle, WV, furnace or vent equipment exploded,” Kanawha County Emergency Management & Floodplain Management posted to its Facebook page shortly after the incident. “Plant officials report no chemicals involved and no injuries.”

The equipment involved in the blast is used for process heating. Ductwork inside the plant was damaged during the incident.

“The equipment was being serviced by the equipment vendor at the time of the failure and the plant was not in operation at the time,” the company said in a statement to WVMetroNews.com. “As a precaution, the site alarm was sounded and surrounding community was asked to shelter in place.”

Officials are investing the cause of the explosion.

An explosion at the Optima Belle facility in the Chemours complex in Belle killed one worker and injured several others in December 2020. During that incident, officials also issued a shelter-in-place order for the area surrounding the plant. The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Identification Board (CSB) later determined that the blast happened in an industrial dryer during a production process for bleach powder.

Kureha PGA manufactures PGA resin at the Belle plant, information on the firm’s website states.

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