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Optima Chemical Plant Worker Dies After Belle, West Virginia Plant Explosion


One worker has died in connection with Tuesday night’s chemical plant explosion in Belle, West Virginia.

According to media reports, the 42-year-old man worked at a plant run by the Optima Chemical Group, a tenant operating at the Chemours Company site located along W. Dupont Avenue in Belle.

A resident of Hurricane, West Virginia, he leaves behind a wife and two children.

Optima Chemical Plant Explosion Left 3 Others Injured

The December 8th explosion erupted shortly after 10:00 p.m., shaking homes across the small Eastern Kanawha County community situated 10 miles outside of Charleston. Authorities closed one road near the Chemours facility and ordered anyone within two miles of the site to shelter-in-place until 2:25 a.m. Wednesday.

Three others were injured in the blast, including two Optima chemical operators and a driver hurt by flying debris. Both workers were hospitalized but have since been released.

According to Optima Chemical, a preliminary investigation suggests a 1,200-gallon metal dryer became overpressurized during a chemical drying product operation. The material in the dryer was a compound used for sanitation.

“The fire burning when I got there was methanol,” C.W. Sigman, director of emergency management for Kanawha County, told the Charleston Mail-Gazette. “The original product was chlorinated dry bleach. There was confusion as to what was actually burning at the time, but they did report both chemicals to us.”

Federal Investigators Deployed to Chemours Chemical Plant

A review of Tier II chemical inventory data that Optima submitted to the West Virginia Emergency Management Division did not list CDB 63, a chlorinated dry bleach chemical. Tuesday was apparently the first time the material was used at the plant.

“Until they do the investigation, I’d be hazarding a guess,” Sigman said when asked whether the new chemical caused the blast. “Once the investigation’s done, then hopefully, we’ll have a better understanding.”

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is sending a team to investigate the Optima Chemical plant explosion, as is the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

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Our Undefeated Plant Explosion Lawyers continue to monitor developments related to the Optima Chemical plant explosion in Belle, West Virginia, and will post an update if new information becomes available.

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