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Fatal explosion at DuPont Plant

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WBFO News photo by Joyce Kryszak
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Outside DuPont Plant on River Road, Tonawanda, scene of fatal explosion

By Eileen Buckley, Joyce Kryszak & Sharon Osorio

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-934015.mp3

Tonawanda, NY – Breaking News:

Emergency crews responded Tuesday morning to an explosion of a 10,000-gallon chemical tanker at the Dupont plant on River Road in the Town of Tonawanda.

One person is dead and another injured following an explosion in a tank outside the Dupont chemical plant on River Road in Tonawanda. Police and several fire companies responded to the explosion a little after eleven o'clock Tuesday morning.

According to officials, the scene was contained and there was never any threat of hazardous fumes at the site or to nearby residents. Lieutenant Nicholas Bado [ with the Town of Tonawanda Police said all indications point to a tragic accident.

The names of the victims have not yet been released. Police and Dupont officials are both conducting investigations to determine the exact cause of the explosion. State and federal officials, including the D-E-C, OSHA and Homeland Security also were called in.

DuPont has issued the following statement:

DuPont Yerkes Plant Statement November 9, 2010 3:15 pm

At approximately 10:45 a.m. today there was an incident in at the DuPont Yerkes plant.

We are deeply saddened that the incident resulted in the fatal injury of worker at the Yerkes site who was employed by Mollenberg-Betz, a mechanical contractor. The name of the fatally injured employee has not been released pending notification of their family. Another worker was injured in the incident and has been transported to a local hospital.

The incident involved an empty tank that had been taken out of service and was undergoing maintenance work. While workers were welding equipment connected to the tank, an explosion took place which resulted in the injuries. The incident was limited to the equipment that was being worked on and the process involved has been shut down. At this point we do not believe there was any hazardous material released to the environment. The site was not evacuated, and all other personnel on the site have been accounted for.

Town of Tonawanda Police and Fire Department responded to the plant and are currently investigating the incident. DuPont is cooperating fully with this investigation and we are conducting our own investigation to determine the cause of the incident.

We will continue to provide more information as it becomes available. Dave Hastings DuPont Operations Public Affairs

Some residents writing on our WBFO Facebook page say they felt or heard the explosion.

John Callahan lives in Riverside in Buffalo. He felt and heard the explosion.