Three Dead: Environmentally Friendly Chemical Plant Explodes in Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Florida, December 19, 2007 (ENS) – Four workers were killed by an explosion today at a chemical plant in Jacksonville that manufactures environmentally friendly industrial chemicals.

The blast occurred at the T2 Laboratories on Faye Road in an industrial district on the waterfront in north Jacksonville. The explosion sent a thick cloud of black smoke over the area that could be seen from the city’s downtown business district.

More than 70 firefighters and every hazardous materials crew in Jacksonville attended the scene of the explosion.

People within a half mile radius of the lab were evacuated. The evacuation order was lifted just after 4 pm local time after the fire was under control and air tests showed no hazardous chemicals.

This afternoon fire and rescue personnel confirmed that three people were killed and more than a dozen others were taken to area hospitals. At first, six people were thought to be missing, but three have been locate, said fire rescue spokesman Tom Francis. Later in the day, officials confirmed that another person also died as a result of the blast.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board will be investigating the incident. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office homicide unit also has begun an investigation.

T2 Laboratories manufactures low environmental impact specialty chemicals that replace conventional industrial chemicals.

The company makes Ecotane® – a manganese-based octane improver for gasoline that reduces tailpipe emissions used by refineries and gasoline blenders. The additive is EPA-approved for use in the United States, and is used in more than 70 other countries.

T2 Labs specializes in the manufacture of specialty terpene solvents from citrus and pine-derived feedstocks.

The company also manufactures a number of limonene-type solvents from turpentine, the essential oil of the pine tree.

Another of the company’s solvents is made of d-limonene, a by-product of citrus oil processing used for wipe-cleaning in aerospace applications.

And T2 Labs makes a paraffin remover for oil and gas wells that it claims on its website “removes blockages and improves flow dramatically without exposing workers to hazardous chemicals.”

The company also makes biorational pesticides, derived from a variety of biological sources, including bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa. They are considered third-generation pesticides that are environmentally sound and closely resemble chemicals produced by insects and plants.

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