On January 31, 2006, at approximately 11:30 am, a fire and explosion occurred at the Synthron, Inc., facility. The City of Morganton Department of Public Safety (Police, Fire and EMS) were the initial responders on Site. On January 31, 2006, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), OSHA, EPA, ATF, FBI, and CSB, joined the initial responders to provide technical assistance with the cleanup and/or investigation. The fire raged on for a number of hours as the fire fighters tried to contain it. The effect of the explosion was felt in residences and buildings several hundred yards away from the Site. The cause of the fire and explosion is currently under investigation however, initial reports have indicated that the incident was caused when materials leaked from a process reactor.
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Initial sampling conducted by EPA and START during the emergency stabilization of the Site identified hazardous substances including, but not limited to, toluene, cyclohexane, ethylene glycol, diethylene glycol, hydrochloric acid, acetic acid, xylene, hazardous waste drums, butyl acrylate, epichlorohydrine, methyl ethyl ketone, and styrene monomer.
Fourteen individuals, 12 employees and 2 passer bys, were injured because of the blast. One employee was fatally injured due to injuries received during the explosion and fire. The run off from fire fighting activities caused a fish kill in Hunting Creek.