On Wednesday morning, Oct. 4, 2017 Eastman Chemical in Kingsport, Tennessee, experienced a massive explosion 57 years to the date after another major explosion that still impacts workers today.
In October 1960, Alex Looney, 21 at the time, was playing golf when he felt the effects of the massive blast from Eastman Chemical. The ground shook beneath his feet.
“Then, of course, for the next several hours you heard sirens and saw all sorts of emergency vehicles,” Looney told News Channel 11.
Little did he know that several good friends who worked at Eastman died that day.
Kingsport Times-News called the 1960 incident “the worst tragedy in the city.”
The explosion happened as a result of high pressure at the Aniline Plant, which was connected to Eastman. There were 16 deaths later reported, as well as more than 200 people injured.
“I mean it really was a local disaster, it was huge,” said Brianne Wright, City of Kingsport archivist. “It affected a lot of people.”
Eastman Senior Vice President David Golden said the timing of Wednesday’s explosion was a “terrible coincidence.”
Immediately following Wednesday’s incident, the surrounding neighborhoods and schools were issued a shelter-in-place advisory until 4 p.m. that day. Eastman Chemical officials also released a statement urging people to turn off their heating and air conditioning units.
Thankfully, no injuries have been reported to date.