One Worker Critically Injured
A LARGE EXPLOSION MONDAY MORNING rocked the entire town of Shelbyville, Tennessee, at a bio-fuel plant, Southern Energy Co.
The initial blast occurred around 10:30 am as a tanker was offloading several thousand gallons of methano. It started the leaking product burning and the flames spread throughout the complex with the flowing fuel. Eventually a subsequent explosion took place as the tanker became involved.
One worker, a chemist who was overseeing the transfer of methanol from an outside tank to an indoor storage tank was in the building where the initial blast occurred. The man identified as Mike Dinovo was seriously burned over 50% of his body and was flown to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville where he is currently listed as being in critical condition.
The Times-Gazette posted some random raw video from the scene:
The preliminary investigation into the cause of the ka-boom was reported by WTVF-TV:
Investigators were armed with witness accounts, taken mainly from the man who was injured in Monday's explosion, who is recovering from burns at Vanderbilt Medical Center. The man injured has been identified as Mike Dinovo of Hillsboro. He was last reported in critical condition.
Shelbyville Fire Marshal Brian Nicholson said his account paints a clearer picture of what took place moments before the explosion and massive fire that broke out at the facility.
Nicholson said according to Dinovo, who is a contracted employee for Southern Energy, a tanker truck was trying to transfer fuel — which the fire marshal said appears to be methanol — into an external storage tank outside the building.
In order to take the shipment, they had to draw down methanol in the external storage tank by draining it through plumbing that went inside the building, to a larger vat of methanol inside.
According to the fire marshal, the contractor, working as a chemist in charge of mixing fuels, went inside to operate a pump to begin transferring the fuel. During that process, the internal larger vat may have overflowed, causing methanol vapors to leak into the air. Those vapors then somehow ignited, causing the initial explosion at the facility, according to the fire marshal.
Investigators are still trying to determine what caused those vapors to ignite.
Nicholson said the fire spread underneath the tanker truck outside, which contained 6,000 gallons of methanol, sparking a secondary explosion that took place after fire trucks had already arrived on scene.
The incident blew out a wall of the building and the fire was carried by the burning, flowing fuel in the provided ditch lines, but was largely contained by the fire department to the Southern Energy properties. Damage to the company was extensive.
FoxNews 17 filed this video report:
WTVF-TV has a good video report with some fire footage posted HERE.
NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather
The Marshall Tribune has the latest updated STORY HERE.
Hat tip: Mark D.
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