Canadian Plastics

Nine injured in AT Plastics explosion

A massive explosion and fire at the production facility of AT Plastics, in Edmonton, Alta., has hospitalized nine e...

October 27, 2008   Canadian Plastics

A massive explosion and fire at the production facility of AT Plastics, in Edmonton, Alta., has hospitalized nine employees.

The explosion occurred on Oct. 24. Four contract workers who were installing fire-proofing at the plant were seriously injured, but three of them later were listed as stable. Five others were treated for minor injuries and released.

According to reports, the explosion involved liquid peroxide. Firefighters chose to let the chemical burn off before they put out the flames, concentrating their efforts on flames licking around three storage tanks. Some nearby businesses were evacuated as a precaution, but no residential areas were affected.

Michael Stubblefield, general manager of AT Plastics, said the fire was under control by mid-morning and all workers and staff had been accounted for. Stubblefield described the type of explosion and fire as “extremely rare.” He said the cause of the blast was unknown.

“Celanese has proactively halted activity at the plant and has contained all necessary raw materials and energy sources. There was no significant release of chemicals into the environment,” the company said in a statement. Provincial and local officials are investigating to determine the cause of the incident and assess damages. Celanese said it also will investigate.

AT Plastics produces ethylene vinyl acetate copolymers and specialty low density polyethylene resins. Products made there and marketed under the Ateva brand are used in applications including flexible packaging, thermal lamination film, hot-melt adhesives, concentrates, medical products and photovoltaic cells.

This is not the first such incident at AT Plastics. In 1982, a massive explosion at the plant hurled chunks of metal 60 metres, caused $5-million in damage and broke thousands of windows in nearby homes and apartments. That blast was caused by a sudden leak of ethylene gas.

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