[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ catastrophic release



This was a catastrophic release.  The EPA was notified.  Towns were evacuated. 
There were evacuations for surrounding communities.  Part of the Detroit River was closed.
Bad situation for both workers and community.
The chemical released if methyl mercaptan, used by Atofina in production of other chemicals.
 
 
Two dead in chemical fire.
 
By LAURA POTTS
The Associated Press
7/14/01 10:29 AM
 

RIVERVIEW, Mich. (AP) -- Two men died at a chemical factory and a third worker is missing following an explosion and fire on Saturday, a company spokeswoman said.
 
ATOFINA Chemicals Inc. spokeswoman Jane Crawford said the victims were Edwin J. Wrobleski, 47, a shift superintendent with 27 years of service, and Kenneth J. Cox, 56, an operator with 13 years with the company. The missing worker's name was not released.
 
Wrobleski lived in Riverview. Cox lived in Rockwood. Company investigators didn't know if the men died during the blast or from the fire, Crawford said.
 
A railcar carrying a dangerous chemical exploded about 4:30 a.m. EDT, prompting the evacuations of hundreds of families in Grosse Ile Township. The township is on an island in the Detroit River, just east of this suburban Detroit community.
 
The car was still burning and leaking at 10:15 a.m., said company engineer Ron Potier.
 
In Grosse Ile Township, people who live on the island's north end were ordered to leave, said Township Clerk Ute O'Connor. About 400 families were affected.
 
"We're playing it safe in case the wind shifts," she said. "We're basically saying if you can get off the island, go."
 
The burning chemical was methyl mercaptan, or methanethiol, a flammable substance used in pharmaceutical and agricultural products.
 
"It's extremely dangerous if inhaled directly. We're getting it diffused," O'Connor said, describing the chemical's smell as like "really bad body odor."
 
Riverview fire Capt. Ken Williamson said the area around the factory is mostly industrial, but about 40 homes have been evacuated. He said he could not release any information about injuries.
 
Canadian authorities closed a portion of the Detroit River to boaters until further notice because of the fire, said U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jeff Dale.
 
ATOFINA, headquartered in Philadelphia, has 4,000 employees in 20 plants in North America and 16 others worldwide. The Riverview plant is the company's oldest, opened in 1898. It has 212 workers, spokeswoman Connie Wickersham said.
 
ATOFINA is owned by owned by TotalFina Elf of Paris.