No injuries or major structural damage were reported after an explosion at Brainerd Chemical Company in Dunn Tuesday afternoon.
Around noon, crews responded to the facility located at 1600 S. Wilson Avenue, off U.S. Highway 301, where a container used to mix chemicals ruptured, causing a cloud of gas to rise above the building, according to Harnett County Emergency Services Director Larry Smith, who was on the scene.
Smith said each area used inside the facility for such purposes has a constructed containment area. He said the containment area did its job.
“The chemicals have all dissipated inside the building and they have all been contained inside the building,” Smith said. “Each one of those areas has a concrete barrier around it to hold stuff back.”
Around 1:30 p.m., state and regional hazardous material response units from Fayetteville had been called to the scene to confirm the findings of crews regarding the safety of the air quality in the immediate area. Smith said crews from Dunn EMS reported the air was safe.
“They’re just going to do some additional monitoring to make sure the results are what we think they are,” Smith said. “Then we’ll turn it back over to Brainerd for them to clean up. There’s no facility damage to the building and everything took place inside the building.”
Smith said in many cases, such as the one Tuesday afternoon, no fire is involved.
“A lot of times what will happen is you’ll get pressure built up and a line will blow or a container will blow,” he said. “That’s what happened here today. No fires and there should be no lingering effects.”
Shortly after fire crews began to wind down operations, Brainerd Chemical President Neil Morgan issued a statement providing more details about Tuesday’s events.
“An incident today involving the inadvertent mixture of two compounds caused an evacuation of the facility and led us to notify local first responders,” Morgan said. “Only one employee was involved, and the person was not injured and did not require medical treatment.”
Morgan said the location of the eruption was inside a warehouse and he expected operations at the facility to resume normally by the end of the day.
“As always, safety is our top concern. While we make every effort to avoid incidents like this, our safety and contingency plans worked as expected to prevent injuries and allow quick recovery,” he said. “We are glad nobody was injured, and we thank all local agencies for their assistance.”
The most recently reported incident at the facility was in 2015 when an explosion took place due to a failure at the plant during one of the chemical processes, allowing the product to escape. That same explosion involved the accidental release of hydrogen peroxide and sulfuric acid that was being mixed to create commercial grade disinfectant.
No details were immediately available as to the chemicals involved in Tuesday’s incident.
There were no evacuations of nearby homes or businesses Tuesday, unlike in 2015 when nearby Dawson Motor Court residents were temporarily relocated.
Rick Curl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-230-2037.