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Emergency crews respond to SC chemical plant fire

Posted on by SST

Emergency crews allowed employees to return to the special chemicals plant  MeadWestvaco in North Charleston, S.C., Monday Oct. 21 after a brief evacuation following a fire and leak according to CBS affiliate WCSC.

Stephanie Mangini, director of communications and brand management at the facility, reported the workers returned within hours of the short fire that lasted roughly 15 minutes. Employees were evacuated from the building to wait at a nearby area.

According to a statement issued by MWV, the fire started around 5:45 p.m. after a leak occurred while workers were tending to regular maintenance at the plant and no employees were "injured in the incident and there [was] no impact to the community or to the environment."

An eyewitness described an eruption of flames after they noticed the sound of sirens at the refinery, WCSC reported . Over 10 trucks from neighboring communities were dispatched to relinquish the fire using fire suppression techniques.

Mangini said by 11 p.m. all emergency responders had left the facility and the fire was completely extinguished. 

MeadWestvaco Refinery
The refinery has had minor fires in the past, including a small fire in July 2009 in the middle of the night and another in March 2012. Both sources reported the fires were put out quickly with minimal damage, noting that the 2012 incident involved a power strip fire spreading to a roof. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends refineries have a fire alarm system, fire extinguisher and a smoke detector to be on-site and accessible to employees subjected to personal safety hazards. 

MWV is a chemical plant with locations in over 30 countries and globally employs over 15,000 employees according to its website, however the plant in North Charleston specializes in working with their paper mill to process rosins, or solid resin from trees, into an array of valuable products.

The global reach of MWV allows their products and services to be used in a number of shared markets including in the fire industry and oil drilling fields and produces over 150 different product lines in their facilities. 

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