Workers Dead in Chicago Plant Explosion

07 May, 2019 Liz Carey

                               

Waukegan, IL (WorkersCompensation.com) – Three employees are dead following an explosion at a silicone factory outside of Chicago, that led to evacuations of nearby neighborhoods.

The explosion rocked the Waukegan area around 9:30 Friday night at AB Specialty Silicones. Four of the nine employees in the plant were taken to the hospital. Two were able to escape the blast without injury. The bodies of two employees were found inside the building after the explosion, the force of which left the building in tatters. Officials continued to search for a remaining missing employee, though many doubted the person could have survived.

"The conditions are really rough in there," Waukegan Fire Marshal Steven Lenzi said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "There's a lot of damage. There was a lot of fire throughout."

One of the employees taken to the hospital died, according to Lake County Coroner Howard Cooper.

On Sunday, the search was suspended when fire officials determined the structure was not stable.

"It's slow going. We can't go in there and do what we want to do quickly because the building is not structurally sound," Cooper said in a news conference. "We have to go in and be very careful. We can't risk anybody else getting hurt or killed doing this recovery effort. Certainly, we want to do what's best for the families, but we have to do it within reason."

Cooper identified the employee who passed away at the hospital as Allen Stevens, 29, of Salem, Wisconsin. Identification of the other victims is pending their autopsies, Cooper said.

Officials did not release any information on the condition of the employees who remained hospitalized.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation, but believed to be accidental, Lenzi said.

The plant, which mixes materials with chemicals to make silicone, operates 24-hours-a-day.

Mac Penman, general manager of AB Specialty Silicones, said in a statement that company officials were "shocked and heartbroken by the tragedy."

"We have spent the day trying our best to support all of the members of our AB family as we attempt to process this terrible loss together," he said.

While the company has no record of violations with the OSHA or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Chemical Safety Board, an independent federal agency that looks into serious chemical accidents, announced that it would be sending a team to Waukegan to investigate the explosion.

 


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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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