“All Chemours employees were safe and accounted for last night,” he said in an email.
“The safety of site employees, emergency responders and the community has been our first priority throughout the incident, so we waited until daylight to begin a thorough site damage assessment,” he added.
One person was hit by flying debris and drove himself to the hospital, Mr. Carper said, and the three other people had injuries caused either by the fire or the explosion. The company has not released details about the injured people, including whether or how they were connected to the operations there.
Optima Chemical has two manufacturing plants in the United States: the one in Belle, under an agreement with Chemours, and another in Douglas, Ga. The company says it manufactures “high energy and high hazard, sensitive chemistry” on a large scale.
Mr. Sueta said Optima owns the buildings it occupies and the manufacturing equipment in its specific geographic area of the site, and that Chemours has its own manufacturing plant in a different part of the complex.
Mr. Carper, the county commission president, said metal debris was blasted with such force that it was flung hundreds of feet across the river, which is wide enough for barges containing chemicals to pass in two-way traffic.
According to preliminary information, he said, the site of the explosion was on a river bank. “Obviously some form of apparatus exploded, and blew metal,” he said. The shrapnel fragments were “very large in some cases. They hit cars, they blew clear across the river, hundreds of feet from the explosion, one city to another.”
He said fire officials smelled chlorine when they arrived at the site, which stretches across more than 700 acres.
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