Catastrophic Explosion at Waukegan, Illinois Silicone Plant Leaves 3 Workers Dead, 1 Missing
Three workers were tragically confirmed dead and another remains missing today, after a massive explosion tore through the AB Specialty Silicones plant in Waukegan, Illinois last Friday evening.
9 Employees Onsite When AB Specialty Silicones Plant Exploded
The May 3rd explosion occurred around 9:30 p.m., while 9 workers were inside the facility, located at 3790 Sunset Avenue in Lake County, roughly 40 miles from Chicago.
The blast destroyed the building, damaged several others in the vicinity, and could be felt from miles away.
“The explosion was a big boom and the ground shook,” one nearby resident told the Lake County News-Sun. “Our cable TV flickered and the electricity, and then it came back on.”
The resulting fire burned through much of the night, forcing the deployment of more than 100 firefighters from 30 different departments and two hazardous materials teams from Lake and Cook Counties.
Hospitalized Silicone Plant Worker Tragically Died Saturday Morning
Paramedics subsequently transferred five people to area hospitals with “moderate to serious injuries.”
Sadly, one of the workers died at the Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois, the following morning. Officials later identified the deceased as a 29-year-old man from Salem, Wisconsin.
Two others declined treatment, and two remain hospitalized. So far, authorities have not commented on their condition.
Remains of 2 AB Silicones Employees Found Over Weekend
Three AB Specialty Silicones employees were unaccounted for immediately after the explosion.
Crews recovered the body of one worker on Saturday morning, while the remains of another were found Sunday afternoon.
The search for the third missing employee was to resume at 9:00 a.m. today.
“It’s slow going,” Lake County Coroner Howard Cooper told reporters Sunday evening. “We can’t go in there and do what we want to do quickly because the building is not structurally sound.”
Waukegan, Illinois Plant Explosion Remains Under Investigation
The AB Specialty Silicones plant manufactures raw silicone used in adhesives, sealants and coatings. Its 240,000 square foot Waukegan campus houses headquarters, manufacturing, research and development, and warehouse facilities.
It’s not yet clear what might have caused Friday night’s explosion.
According to Waukegan Fire Marshall Steve Lenzi, AB Specialty Silicones does not have a history of code violations and experienced its last “fire incident” over 10 years ago.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board and the U.S. Occupational Safety Administration have deployed investigators to the scene.
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