Wacker's chemical plant in East Tennessee announced it's going to be closed for what may be months, while officials investigate an explosion that happened September 7. The blast released trace amounts of hydrochloric acid into the air and hospitalized several people. Workers quickly contained the leak.
The county sheriff said seven people who live nearby sought treatment for symptoms related to the incident. But the company maintains the leak posed no threat to the community.
Officials now say production may not resume for months at the $2.5 billion plant, which employs about 650 people. During the downtime, some of those workers will assist in repairs. Back in August, a different leak injured five employees. Wacker says the two incidents were unrelated.
In a prepared statement Wednesday, the company said:
"Wacker Charleston held a town hall meeting with our Team Members this morning. We are working diligently towards resuming production, the safety of our employees and the community is our top priority. Therefore, production will not start until a thorough inspection is completed and it is certain that the facility is safe. From Today’s perspective the restarting will take several months. During the production downtime, we will use personnel to support repair efforts and other site activities. We will also use this downtime to provide our employees with advanced training courses.
"WACKER Charleston is open, while the production process is not in operation.
"Wacker’s commitment to safety remains our focus."