Lodi, NJ Chemical Plant Explosion, Aug 1973

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7 HURT, 2 MISSING IN CHEMICAL PLANT EXPLOSION, FIRE.

NEW JERSEY FACILITY DAMAGED.

CAUSE OF BLAST NOT DETERMINED; PROBE CONTINUES.

Lodi, N.J. (AP) -- Seven persons were injured and two were unaccounted for in an explosion and general alarm fire at a sprawling chemical plant here Tuesday.
Five of the injured were reported in critical condition.
According to police, the blast at the Washine Division plant of the Mallinkrodt Chemical Works occurred at 7:50 a.m. The fire was brought under control about four hours later, but firemen were unable to enter the building for several more hours.
The explosion destroyed a section of the plant, which consisted of several connected buildings on a square-block site.
According to a company spokesman, the explosion occurred in a manufacturing area at the rear of the plant, which employs more than 150 persons.
Police first said 10 persons were unaccounted for, but a spokesman later said the others apparently went directly to their homes after the blast.
The plant manufactures food chemicals and industrial chemicals and solvents, according to the firm's spokesman. He said the plant also has a number of storage tanks for chemicals, some of which may have blown up after the initial explosion,
and others which were charred by the blaze but did not explode.
"Something blew and maybe several other tanks popped," said 1st Asst. Fire Chief Eddie Sagui of the explosion.
Police said the cause of the blast was under investigation.
The plant is on Main Street, a major artery in this industrial borough of 25,000 population.
Firemen, some called in from nearby communities, were still wetting down areas surrounding the fire more than six hours after the initial blast, to prevent further explosions. Flames continued to flare up at the factory through the afternoon.
Windows were knocked out in a house and appliance store across the street from the plant and an abandoned factory next door. The roof of the abandoned building was set ablaze, but the fire was quickly controlled.
An outer layer of bricks was knocked from a tall chimney at the chemical plant, leaving it looking like a charred relic of some war.
The injured were taken to Hackensack Hospital, where a spokesman said five were in critical condition and two in fair condition.

The Cumberland News Maryland 1973-08-15