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Contractor killed, others injured in industrial accident at Wacker plant in Charleston, TN

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UPDATE (5:30 p.m. Friday, November 13th):

One of five contract workers injured during an industrial accident at Wacker Polysilicon plant in Charleston Friday morning did not survive his injuries, plant officials confirmed.

Spokesperson Lisa Mantooth said in a statement that the injured workers were taken to area hospitals. As of 6 p.m., three are being treated, and one has been treated and released.

"Our thoughts and prayers remain with the injured individuals and the family of the deceased," said Mantooth in the statement.

Site Manager and Vice President Mary Beth Hudson told Mix 104.1 WCLE's Steve Hartline in an interview that from what they've learned so far, during a maintenance operation by the contractors, a "small release of a mixture of steam and hydrochloric acid" happened. She says the leak was quickly contained.

Hudson says while the contractors were injured in the leak, the community and surrounding area were never endangered.

Wacker's investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Meanwhile in the community, neighbor Lane Harris says he found out the news from his brother, who had heard some details about the workers on the radio.

“He heard that the workers heard an explosion was gonna happen, or they thought they were going to get injured – and it didn’t go well,” said Harris, who had also seen the flames following the 2017 explosion at the same site.

Bradley County EMS tells NewsChannel 9 that based on what they saw and heard, there was never a danger to the community outside the chemical plant.

But we asked if the public should still have been notified, given the plant’s history.

“We try not to use that system – we don’t want people to see it and just kind of throw their phones or not pay attention to it, so we only use it for more serious events,” said Bradley Co. EMS Director & Fire Chief Shawn Fairbanks.

But nearby residents like Harris feel the neighborhood, especially those living within a couple miles, should know regardless.

“Just because of all the explosions in the past and all the other incidents,” he said.

This is a developing story and will be updated as we learn more.


The Bradley County Emergency Management Agency's Troy Spence confirms to NewsChannel 9 that 5 people were injured in an industrial accident at the Wacker Polysilicon plant in Charleston in Bradley County Friday morning.

We have a crew on the scene and are working to learn more details about what happened. Watch our live report at noon below:

Wacker released a statement via email just after 12 p.m.:

"At approximately 10:15 a.m. this morning, an industrial incident occurred at the WACKER-Charleston site that resulted in injuries to five individuals who are being treated at local hospitals. There was no impact to the community or the environment. The area has been secured and the incident is being investigated. We will share more details as this investigation continues. Our thoughts are with the individuals and their families at this time, and we thank the local emergency response organizations for their support."

We witnessed several helicopters arriving and department from the plant with patients:

Both Spence and Wacker officials tell us there is "no threat to the surrounding community."

Bradley County Fire & Rescue gave an update on the incident at 1 p.m.:

At this news conference, we learned that two workers were airlifted to Erlanger, one to Vanderbilt and two were transported by ground EMS to Tennova Healthcare.

We asked why an alert wasn’t sent out to the community, given that there was also an incident at the Wacker plant in 2017. The response was that EMS didn’t see or hear anything that suggested a danger to the community.

In 2017, an explosion at Wacker inside the hydrogen recovery building injured a total of 13 people.

The Tennessee Occupational Health and Safety Administration (TOSHA) said in its final report the explosion happened when a piston fractured, which released hydrogen that ignited. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation called the situation an "unavoidable failure of process equipment."

TOSHA fined Wacker $25,000 for violations surrounding the explosion.

The plant was closed until April, 2018.

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This developing story will be updated as we learn more information., so please keep checking .

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