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Kansas City Chemical Fire Leads to Evacuations, Health Concerns

Feb 8, 2007 |

Fires and explosions at a Kansas City chemical plant forced the evacuation of 500 local residents and 1,000 schoolchildren and have caused major health concerns in the area. Still facing new explosions on Thursday, local firefighters have not yet been able to get the blaze under control as clouds of thick black smoke continue to pour out of the facility.

On Wednesday, an explosion of several 55-gallon chemical drums rocked a ChemCentral plant in Kansas City’s East Bottoms neighborhood, igniting 100-foot-high flames that spewed black smoke and sticky residue and sent neighbors scurrying for shelter. Although no injuries were reported, local residents were asked to remain out of the area until the fire subsided. As of Thursday, it still wasn’t immediately clear what caused the initial explosion. The plant housed solvents and mineral spirits, but nothing that appears to pose a significant or unusual health risk.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has tested the air quality in the vicinity and reported no significant hazards. However, they are mildly concerned about contamination of the local water supply. Residents have been asked to avoid the ash and debris emanating from the plant. There are three full 30,000-gallon tanker rail cars at the site, which remains a cause of concern for local officials citing the risk of further explosions.

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