2 injured in Clarksville zinc plant explosion


Two people were injured in an explosion at a Clarksville zinc plant Monday evening, the company reported Tuesday.

The incident was reported at the Nyrstar zinc plant around 5 p.m. on Zinc Plant Road.

Two of the people injured suffered serious burns and were transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center via medical helicopter. The employees, who have not been identified, are in stable condition.

According to plant general manager Darin Cooper, the employees were injured in one of the electric motor control centers in the roasting department.

Cooper said in a release that there was no damage to the plant and there has been no impact on production. He said the cause of the accident is under investigation.

Nyrstar is a worldwide mining and smelting operation based in Belgium with more than 7,000 employees. This particular plant has been in Clarksville for at least 20 years but has operated under different owners.

Nyrstar also operates zinc mines in Smith County.

According to records, Monday's blast was not the first explosion at the plant under Nyrstar. There was another one in 2008, and according to OSHA there was "an explosion in the cadmium tank."

OSHA fined the plant $4,500 after citing the company for hazards in the workplace. They were hazards that OHSA said "were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm" to workers.

Other than that violation in 2008, which OSHA considered serious, the plant has had a clean inspection history.

OSHA inspected the plant again in 2009 and found no problems.

Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.



Nancy Amons is an award-winning member of the News4 I-Team. She has been breaking stories in Middle Tennessee for more than 20 years.

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