ARAB, Ala. – An industrial explosion at a chemical plant in Arab killed a contracted construction worker. A 7,000-gallon sulfuric acid tank exploded during a construction project.
The plant is owned by Umicore, a global materials, technology, and recycling company. It currently employs more 10,000 people and has industrial operations on every continent. The Arab plant has been working on an expansion project for several months.
An industrial explosion call came in around 1:40 Tuesday afternoon. Arab police officers and firefighters rushed to the scene. Fire Chief Ricky Phillips says a crew was working in an area under construction when the explosion happened.
“They’re putting in a new processing system from what I can understand and they were working on tying the connections to the tanks together,” Phillips said.
No one else was injured. Phillips says they aren’t sure what caused the explosion.
“They were using some tools that make sparks and heat on top of the tank from what we can gather and understand.”
Many people who live in the area were concerned about their safety. Phillips says nearby schools contacted the fire chief. Neighbors wondered if they would need to evacuate.
“It was an empty construction tank in the area where they are adding on to the plant. The tank had been washed and cleaned out,” he said.
Phillips wants people to know they are not in danger. “There is no chemical release, there’s been no fire, there’s no hazards off-site to anybody.”
It was all contained in the facility.
Marshall County Deputy coroner Martin Killion has reached out to the family of the person who died. They do not want the name of their loved one to be released to the media.
Arab officials have contacted OSHA and this investigation will be turned over to them. WHNT News 19 reached out to Umicore Speciality Chemicals for comment have yet to hear back from them.