Edmonton

Workers injured in Edmonton plant explosion out of hospital

The nine people who were injured in an explosion and fire at a plastics plant on refinery row in Edmonton's east end Friday morning, have all been released from hospital.

The nine people who were injured in an explosion and fire at a plastics plant on refinery row in Edmonton's east end Friday morning, have all been released from hospital.

The fire initially sent all nine to hospital. Five were treated for minor injuries and released, while the other four were thought to be in more serious condition.

Firefighters were called to Celanese Corporation's AT Plastics plant, south of Baseline Road near 44th Street, just before 8 a.m. after reports of an explosion.

Officials said the fire started in a holding tank behind the main building while contractors were fireproofing the container.

The general manager of AT Plastics, Michael Stubblefield, said all employees were accounted for.

"Clearly the immediate concern is, 'are there any injuries, let's start the counting of heads to make sure that we can identify everyone.' That's the first priority in any incident like this," he said.

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Nikki Booth from Edmonton Fire and Rescue Services said the substance in the container was organic peroxide.

"There's no danger to the air, however there are some concerns about the water run-off, from the water mixing with the product.  However, that run-off is being contained by AT Plastics," Booth said.

In a release late Friday afternoon, Celanese said there was no significant release of chemicals into the environment, and local air quality was not affected.

The company is working with local regulatory officials to deal with the effects of the run-off of water from the site, the release said.

Celanese said it has launched an internal investigation into the cause of the incident.

The sound of the explosion was heard by residents and commuters.

John Cameron was just getting home from work when he heard a sound he described as a "loud pop."

"The house started to shake, so naturally [I] ran outside to see what was going on, and there was large black plumes of smoke coming, well probably about three or four kilometres away … just across from the refineries,"  he said.

"We were on 34th Street, north of the Whitemud. We were driving north, and we were listening to the radio and actually we heard a loud pop, like two cars colliding together, like huge,"  Diane Wood told CBC News. "You knew it was big to hear it way back there … it was like, almost like thunder."

Fire crews had earlier feared the possibility of a second explosion, but a decision to let the chemical burn off lessened those concerns.

Around noon, fire officials said the fire was out.

RCMP in Strathcona County reopened Baseline Road by midday, which had been closed for most of Friday morning because of the fire.

AT Plastics makes speciality polymers, and has been owned by Celanese since 2005.   About 250 people work at the plant.

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