Engineering News

Fire Damages Ga. Chem. Plant
May 03, 2010

No one was injured Sunday afternoon when a fire broke out at a chemical plant off Abutment Road in Dalton, Ga., officials said.

Just after 1 p.m., 911 began receiving calls from several people who reported hearing explosions coming from the Polystar Chemical plant at 206 Brookhollow Industrial Blvd., an operator said. No one was in the building when the fire began, fire officials said.

Dalton Fire Chief Bruce Satterfield said around 6 p.m. that officials had not yet begun to investigate the cause of the fire.

"Things are just now cooling down," he said. "I don't know how much they'll even (investigate) today."

The fire appears to have begun in and was contained to the south portion of the building, Satterfield said.

"There was one tank we were especially concerned with," he said. "It contained epichlorodhydrin. It's toxic. It is poison. There could have been a lot more explosions if the fire had gotten into that section of the building. There were other tanks on the inside. It could have been a lot worse situation."

Satterfield said he expects there to be "extensive dollar loss" because of the reactors, chemicals and equipment that were destroyed in the fire.

There were a few explosions after crews arrived on scene, Satterfield said. He did not yet know if an explosion sparked the fire or if a fire caused the explosions.

"Some tires were blown off some trailers, there were some barrels, and I don't know what tanks and reactors may have ruptured," Satterfield said.

There were no evacuations because of the fire, but Satterfield said officers with the Dalton Police Department were on hand to initiate an evacuation if it was needed.

Contact information for company officials could not be found on Sunday afternoon.

Black smoke from the fire could be seen for miles to the north. A few roads, including Brookhollow Industrial Boulevard and a portion of Focus Drive, were closed as firefighters worked to contain the fire.

Polystar is a 5-year-old company headquartered in Dalton that produces "a full line of materials for epoxy systems," according to the company's website, "Our core chemistries are amine and epichlorodhydrin based, and so our key products are hardeners, diluents, adducted resins and related surfactants," the website states.

The site states that there are 12 reactors, ranging in size from 2,000 to 10,000 gallons, being operated at the Dalton plant.

Satterfield said he had about 28 firefighters with the Dalton Fire Department on scene. Off-duty firefighters were called in to man the city's stations while on-duty firefighters battled the fire.

A portion of the building is in the city limits, but the portion of the building where it caught fire is in the county, Satterfield said. Fire officials turned the scene over to the Whitfield County Fire Department Sunday evening.

Source: The Daily Citizen, Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

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