One dead, two injured in explosion at West Virginia chemical plant

One dead, two injured in explosion at West Virginia chemical plant

One person died and two were injured in an explosion at the Optima chemical plant in Bell, West Virginia.

According to an early investigation, the explosion occurred when an overpressure developed in a 1,200-gallon metal dryer during the drying of chemical products. The company, which leases the facility from Chemours, also reported that the dryer was using a compound used for disinfecting.

The deceased was identified as John Gillenwater, who was a chemical operator. Two other chemical operators were treated at a local hospital and discharged.

Governor Jim Justice had previously stated that at least four people had been injured in the explosion, but that information had not been confirmed. A few hours ago an emergency regime was lifted in the area, according to which local residents within a radius of 3 km were not allowed to leave their homes.

Experts believe chemicals from the fire at the plant did not enter the Kanawha River, Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said.