*Explosion at The Synthron Plant*
By: Raine
31 January 2006

This happened today about 3 miles from the house, so it's all over local news/radio [happened about 11:40, but just got phone service back]. The blast here was strong enough to shake the house & knock a few pictures off the wall... morganton.com & charlotte.com seem to be the best online updates. Last report I heard was 16 injured, at least 2 moved to other hospitals - one with serious burns, one other with head injuries. All plant employees are accounted for, with no fatalities reported [only about 10 were there - it's a small plant & some were at lunch; some of those injured/treated were nearby residents, and at least 2 were driving by at the time].

At least 1 car was overturned on Kirksey Dr. near the plant. It blew the windows out of a couple nearby buildings & homes, and looks to have done pretty serious damage to the church across the street [Iglesia Emmanuel]. Fire & EMS are still parked in the area, and were delayed for a while when this happened because of the smoke, secondary explosions [lasted about an hour, from barrels inside the plant], and the woods surrounding the plant catching fire and threatening some homes and trailers. Parts of Amherst Rd, Kirksey Dr, Vine Arden Rd, and Devaney Rd were all closed off, and people who left were not being allowed back in as late as 2pm [evacuation is voluntary, not mandatory].

There was a very nasty looking/smelling smoke cloud overhead, and they were telling people to stay inside, close windows/doors, turn off heat pumps, etc [another good reason for a FIAC!].

Synthron makes paints and things like that, and water treatment chemicals, and they still don't know what all may be in the air, but they know for sure there was a bunch of toulene in the building that blew up. They still don't know what caused it, but the place had had several fines and complaints about safety & materials-handling, and was really run-down and junky looking to begin with.

Suprisingly, not a lot of panic here, but people are staying inside. Schoolbuses also ran early, about 2pm, so I guess school was dismissed to get the kids home [even though all the schools in the county were pretty far from the site, and they ran the buses right into the affected areas to drop off kids].

The explosion has left the following in a nearby creek: naphthalene, dimethyl benzyl, formaldehyde, methanol, and toluene. [and possibly more chemicals involved in paint & textile applications].

We are on well water, but even the creek in our back yard has a whitish color to it today, so I don't know how safe it'll be [they said it'll take probably 2 more days before we can get it tested, due to demand right now].

We're using bottled water for now & the filter we use for our drinking/cooking water is supposed to remove toulene, benzene, lead, mercury, TTHMs, etc. We won't know if our water is safe to drink for some time to come.

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