Explosion at Wacker has workers, residents sheltering in place

From staff reports
Posted 9/7/17

An incident this afternoon around 3:40 p.m. at Wacker Polysilicon in Charleston is reportedly due to a mechanical failure.

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Explosion at Wacker has workers, residents sheltering in place

This photo shows the cloud after the explosion this afternoon at Wacker.
This photo shows the cloud after the explosion this afternoon at Wacker.
Photo courtesy of Dean Anderson
Posted

From staff reports

An incident this afternoon around 3:40 p.m. at Wacker Polysilicon in Charleston is reportedly due to a mechanical failure.

According to the Bradley County Emergency Management Agency, the incident was being considered a “level 3” which means Wacker’s in-house fire department responded to the incident.

All of the roads leading into the Wacker area had been closed off and Interstate 75 from mile markers 26 to 37 were closed by the Tennessee Highway Patrol; however, they have been reopened as of 5:35 p.m.

Residents of Charleston had been under a “shelter in place” advisory along with an advisory to shut off air conditioning units. Walker Valley High School had been set up as a temporary shelter.

That advisory has also been lifted.

In a press release from Wacker, the company says the mechanical failure caused a chemical release.

“All employees, contractors and firefighters are accounted for,” the Wacker statement said. “There are no injuries.”

Wacker said “sheltering in place” was a precautionary measure.

“The equipment has been shut down to address the issue,” Wacker said.

The schools closest to Wacker, Charleston Elementary and Walker Valley High School, received orders to have everyone on their campuses go indoors and shelter in place.

Dr. Linda Cash, director of Bradley County Schools, said she and school system staff quickly followed the Bradley Cleveland EMA’s recommendation to get everyone safely indoors.

“When they tell us there is an emergency, we will comply to ensure the safety of everyone in our schools,” Cash said.

Cash said some school buses were still on the road taking students from Charleston Elementary and Walker Valley High School home, so those buses were diverted to Ocoee Middle School, which the school system has identified as an “emergency shelter location.” The buses were diverted to help minimize the time students might spend walking in the affected area.

Parents were contacted and asked to pick up their students at Ocoee Middle. Meanwhile, the students sheltering in place remained indoors for only about 40 minutes, Cash.

“We are all glad that all of our students remained safe,” Cash said. “I applaud everyone for ensuring we followed our emergency protocols well.”

Cash said Thursday evening she did not anticipate there would be any school delays Friday morning.

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