UPDATE: Company says no impact on human health, environment in explosion
Employees were sheltered in place and near neighbors were advised to stay indoors, turn off AC systems.
UPDATE: KINGSPORT, TN (AP) - A company says it doesn't expect coal gas explosions at its Tennessee chemical plant to threaten human health or cause long-term environmental impacts.
Eastman Chemical said two explosions and a fire Wednesday morning at its Kingston manufacturing facility resulted from what it called "a process upset."
Eastman said there were no injuries beyond minor first aid.
Neighbors were warned to shelter in place amid a black smoke plume. People living within a half-mile had to stay put for four and a half hours.
Eastman chief legal officer David Golden says carbon monoxide and hydrogen were within the emissions, but the release was at a concentration and direction that doesn't threaten human health or the environment.
Golden says Eastman is still investigating the cause. Unaffected areas of the plant are restarting.
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PREVIOUS STORY: KINGSPORT, TN (WCYB) - UPDATE, 2:51 p.m.
Road closures that were lifted briefly are being put back in place by police and transportation officials in Kingsport surrounding Eastman Chemical Company. That includes State Route 93 / John B. Dennis Highway.
UPDATE, 2:21 p.m.
Officials with Eastman Chemical Company have posted another update on Wednesday's explosion:
"Eastman experienced a process upset in the coal gasification area of its Kingsport, Tenn., manufacturing site. There have been no injuries reported beyond first aid. 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."
UPDATE, 1:33 p.m.
A reverse 911 call issued to residents from Kingsport emergency officials says there is no chemical release from the earlier explosion at Eastman Chemical Company. It also said that a shelter in place order remains for residents within a quarter-mile of the facility.
UPDATE: 1:07 p.m.
A statement from Eastman Chemical Company says the shelter in place order has been modified to residents and businesses located within a half-mile of the plant.
Here is the official word:
"Eastman has removed the precautionary shelter in place advisory Wednesday for its corporate campus and surrounding community, except for those within a half-mile radius of the intersection of John B. Dennis and Moreland Drive, and personnel inside the Kingsport plant perimeter.
"The shelter in place advisory was issued in an abundance of caution in response to a process upset in the coal gasification area of its Kingsport manufacturing site.
"No injuries have been reported. The incident was reported to the proper regulatory authorities.
"We expect to have an assessment by 3 p.m. whether the localized shelter in place advisory will be lifted.
"Eastman will continue to share additional details as they become available."
UPDATE: 1:00 p.m.
Wednesday's "process upset" in a coal gasification area of Eastman Chemical Company that rocked nearby homes but caused no injuries falls on the same date of a tragedy at the plant recorded back in 1960.
On Oct. 4 of that year, 16 workers were killed in an explosion at the facility.
UPDATE, 12:13 p.m.
Parents of children from Indian Springs Elementary School in Kingsport have received an automated phone message from Sullivan County Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski that says students there have been told to shelter in place.
UPDATE, 12:01 p.m.
A report from Eastman Chemical Company says for people who live near the plant to stay indoors and turn off your HVAC / heating and cooling systems. They also advise residents to check on their neighbors.
Employees at the plant are also being told to shelter in place.
UPDATE, 11:53 a.m.
Kingsport City Schools spokesperson Andy True says all students at all city schools have been told to shelter in place.
Northeast State Community College's Kingsport campus has also been instructed to shelter in place.
UPDATE: 11:49 a.m
No injuries have been reported in an explosion at Eastman Chemical Company.
Here is the official statement from the company:
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.
No one was injured.
In an excess of caution, our employees are currently sheltered in place as we are working to secure the area. Until more information is known, near neighbors are advised to do the same. That means to stay indoors, turn off your HVAC system. More information will be updated on eastman.com, the Eastman Careline 423-229-CARE and local media.
We have reported the incident to the proper regulatory authorities.
Fire crews were dispatched to Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport as several reports of explosions have been heard coming from the campus.
A journalist for News 5 posted outside the plant described a loud, audible explosion coming from the property.
Click here to see a view of the plant from Bays Mountain.
Below is a photo taken from our Bays Mountain cam at 10:50 a.m. Wednesday morning: