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Plant Blast is Worst U.S. Industrial Accident in Nearly 3 Years

5:12 PM, Dec 21, 2007   |    comments
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By Grayson Kamm First Coast News JACKSONVILLE, FL -- After a briefing by investigators, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says the Northside chemical plant explosion is the nation's most severe industrial accident in nearly three years. At his regional office on the Southbank Friday morning, Nelson confirmed that investigators believe the chemical plant's staff was making a fuel additive using "highly energetic" ingredients when the blast ripped the building apart Wednesday. The explosion and fire that followed created the worst industrial incident since a BP oil refinery in Texas erupted in flames in March 2005, Nelson said. The refinery fire killed 15 people, but was contained to the site. The T2 Labs blast on the Northside spread debris more than a quarter mile from the plant and killed four people. Nelson explained that workers were making the fuel additive "Ecotane," which boosts octane. The finished product is relatively stable, Nelson said, but the substances used to make it, including carbon dioxide and sodium, are heated to extreme temperatures. The chemical reactions involved have the potential to "run away" and get out of control. The lead members of an investigation team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board met with Nelson at 10:30 Friday morning. Nelson said he intends to visit the site later in the day. Related Stories

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