EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSBRENNTAG CHEMICAL
from Eyewitness News Online
Eyewitness News Investigation Reveals Chemical Plant Problem Wasn't Reported To Metro 911
Reported by: Kennie Bass
Videographer: Matt Durrett
Web Producer: Bob Aaron
Reported: Aug. 3, 2012 6:06 PM EDT
Updated: Aug. 3, 2012 6:17 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
A chemical reaction is blamed for the June structure fire at Brenntag Chemical's distribution plant just outside of St. Albans.
Brenntag first contacted emergency workers that they had a problem at 9:40 am on the morning of June 12th. The fire call came about an hour later.
However, Eyewitness News has learned that there was an earlier explosion, characterized by the plant as an "over pressurization" that happened about 11 hours earlier.
Sources say it happened at approximately 11:20 pm on the night of June 11th, and that company officials told workers not to call 9-1-1....that the problem was contained to a storage room and that Brenntag would handle it. But as the hours rolled on a second incident ignited the fire.
The man who coordinated the emergency response says he didn't know about the earlier incident until told by Eyewitness News today.
C.W. Sigman/Kan. Co. Deputy Emergency Mgr: "If that's the case then we are concerned. Particularly since it resulted in an explosion or over pressurization and it did result in the building catching on fire. If that's the case we need to figure out what happened...why we weren't notified."
Sigman says its important for emergency workers to know every time a plant experiences a problem, even if plant workers say it poses no threat to the general public.
Kanawha County Commission president Kent Carper says it is standard procedure to contact Metro 9-1-1 when trouble surfaces...just in case.
Kent Carper/Kan. Co. Commission: "Because that's our protocol. That makes sense. And it provides the best opportunity to protect the public. It's of serious concern, You know, it's always easy to think something's not that bad but when you're dealing with something like a chemical fire or leak or an electrical fire then you exercise caution."
We briefly talked with a Brenntag Chemical manager today. A supervisor at the St. Albans facility denied that any employees were told not to call 9-1-1 after the first explosion.
He added the initial incident was contained in a storage building and presented no outside danger.
However, Brenntag did not return a call asking to discuss the situation in greater detail.
Although Brenntag declined to speak with us, the company may have to explain itself to Kanawha County emergency workers, who say they will educate Brenntag about the importance of notifying Metro 9-1-1 after any incident at the plant.
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