Chemical plant owner details accident

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on October 6, 2011 at 9:19 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 7 at 8:37 AM

WAXAHACHIE - Four days after a chemical fire ripped through the Magnablend chemical plant in Waxahachie, the owner of the company revealed some details about the cause of the accident.

However he did not reveal the exact chemicals that burned in the blaze.

Magnablend owner Scott Pendery said workers were mixing a product used in the wastewater treatment industry.

In August, they began making 16 small test batches, and had no issues at the time.

But on Monday, they began making a bigger batch - this one 2,500 gallons.

Pendery said they didn't expect the amount of steam that would create. It began filling up the building, then from somewhere came a spark that caused the fire.

The steam off of the reactions may have contained hydrogen, which helped the fire spread quickly. The sprinkler system was overwhelmed and there was no chemical foam available to the workers to douse the flames. On top of that, there were propane tanks on site and those exploded.

But by all accounts, the company, the Environmental Protection Agency and the fire department seem to think everything was in order, and this was simply a fluke.

"What we're doing right now is what we've been doing for 33 years," Pendery said. "We have been in this business. We are excellent at this business. We are experts in the business. This was an accident. It was a true accident. It's like space shuttles - we've lost a space shuttle, but these are professionals and things go wrong. This is a situation where obviously something went catastrophically wrong."

The fire is expected to be out by tomorrow, so the odor in the area should be gone. They are detecting some sulfur in the air samples, which may be causing the smell.

However the air samples are showing nothing toxic and neither is the water runoff. The soil is also going to be tested and then removed.

The company said it will do every thing it can to prevent this type of accident in the future, and will hold more press conferences as they learn more. However at this time, they can not release the names of all the chemicals that burned and will not have that information until the investigation is completed.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

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