Cherokee Nitrogen plant explosion shakes multiple counties - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Cherokee Nitrogen plant explosion shakes multiple counties

At least one person was injured in the explosion and taken to an area hospital. At least one person was injured in the explosion and taken to an area hospital.
CHEROKEE, AL (WAFF) -

An explosion at a chemical plant in Colbert County sent a man to the hospital late Tuesday night.

Emergency crews responded to the explosion at the Cherokee Nitrogen plant on Industrial Road around 10 p.m.

Colbert County EMA officials said the explosion was a small one.

Residents from as far as Lauderdale County reported they heard a loud boom. Some residents reported the noise shook their homes.

Cherokee Plant General Manager Don Phillips said one employee was injured and sent to Helen Keller Hospital. The employee's name and condition have not been released but Phillips said his injuries were minor.

The explosion happened when a high pressure line ruptured as ammonia was being produced, according to Phillips.

He said there has been some damage to the plant, including some broken windows.

Phillips said the plant is conducting an investigation to determine what exactly caused the pressure line to burst.

The investigation could take days and repairs to the plant could take weeks.

Phillips attributed the loud explosion to the high-pressure nature of the ruptured line.

EMA Director Mike Melton said nothing leaked into the environment and any smells were from fumes. He said there should not have to be any testing done.

No details yet on whether surrounding homes sustained damage.

The Cherokee Fire Department was on the scene along with Colbert County Sheriff's deputies. Crews cleared the area by 1 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Melton said he was pleased with the response of both the plant workers and emergency responders.

Plant management estimates a three to five month outage at the ammonia plant while repairs are made.

 Copyright 2012 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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