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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fracking chemical plant explosion leads to evacuation

"In the latest briefing, Allegheny County Emergency Services says has been in contact with its Beaver County counterpart, which is monitoring the smoke plume that has shifted its way. The two buildings on fire are releasing ammonium persulfate and sodium chlorite*, which are an inhalation hazard. Because of the smoke plume’s path, Beaver County’s emergency services has advised Hopewell High School to dismiss its students.

"The best thing you can do is not inhale the smoke if you can help it," said Chief Henderson. The blaze at Weatherford Engineered Chemical Co., 180 Leetsdale Industrial Drive, was reported at 10:10 a.m. Four people have been injured as a result of the fire — one firefighter being assessed and three individuals who were taken to Sewickley Valley Hospital with non life-threatening injuries. Ralph Black, 51, of Leetsdale said he was awakened by the sound of several explosions at the plant. He lives in the Tom Moore Apartments on Beaver Road, a couple of blocks away on a hill overlooking the industrial park, and watched the fire from his back porch. "Every few minutes you hear cans exploding — boom, boom, boom," he said. "You can see the firemen squirting water on them, but they explode and the fire gets worse." Mr. Black described the thick, blue-colored smoke coming from the fire with flames rolling on the roof of the structure."

*“Ammonium persulfate and sodium chlorite ... can have an impact if inhaled in high doses. Any individuals who are experiencing trouble breathing or intense coughing, especially those with an existing chronic condition, should seek medical attention."