TODD COUNTY, Ky. (WKRN) — One person was killed and three others injured after an explosion at a chemical coating facility in Kentucky Wednesday afternoon.
The incident happened around noon at Quick Turn Anodizing facility on 2nd Street in Guthrie.
A vacuum truck waste hauler from Onsite Environmental was removing an alkaline lye solution for a holding tank around noon. Near the end of the process around 1 p.m., white smoke or steam was seen coming from the area of the truck, which was parked directly in front of the building, according to Todd County Emergency Management.
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Within minutes, the tank containing approximately 300 gallons of the solution “catastrophically failed” at its end cap seam.
The end cap flew approximately 125 feet to the north, landing in a vacant lot while the remainder of the tank went through the exterior of the building, through an interior partition, hit a support beam and finally coming to a stop about 100 feet away, according to TCEM.
Officials said a person was killed as the flying tank struck two employees working near the center of the facility. The driver of the truck who was standing near the tank was injured as they were thrown into the vacant lot. A Guthrie city employee who had seen the initial smoke and went to investigate and another Quick Turn employee who was inside the building were also injured.
TCEM reported it is believed that an organic fat such as cooking oil became mixed with the alkaline waste water in the tank, causing an exothermic saponification reaction. The reaction raised the temperature inside the tank, causing the water portion of the solution to boil, and raised the pressure inside it to a point beyond its designed strength.
The investigation into the incident is ongoing by the Kentucky State Fire Marshall and the Kentucky Environmental Cabinet.