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Cause Of Explosion At Garland Chemical Plant Still Unknown

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jack Fink
Jack moved to Dallas after three years at WESH-TV, the NBC affil...
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GARLAND (CBS 11 NEWS) – Investigators from all levels of government continue their probe at the Nexeo Solutions complex to figure out what caused the explosion on November 16, that ripped apart a portion of the Garland chemical facility.

Surveillance video from a camera outside a business across the street captured the explosion, the flames and thick, black smoke that quickly swallowed everything nearby.

The video shows one employee, Randy Shaft, getting into his truck and driving off.

“It shook the ground. We all felt it. You could feel it in your chest,” he said. “I took off. We all got a quarter of a mile down the street, heard about seven or eight more explosions, got evacuated, pretty crazy.”

OSHA investigators interviewed employees and toured the facility to figure out if any violations led to the explosion and fire.

Garland fire marshals consider the fire an accident so far, and say the explosion rocked the plant, as crews unloaded methanol from a rail car into a tank.

“Were all the lines connected? Did a line come loose, what exactly caused the spark that caused the fire?” questions Merrill Balanciere.

As CBS 11 first reported, OSHA fined Nexeo Solutions $4500 last year after finding a serious violation at its Tewksbury, Massachusetts plant.

CBS 11 also reported the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality found one moderate and three minor violations at the Garland facility last year.

A review of fire department inspections and industrial storm water inspections only found minor issues.

Crews also tested water runoff in a creek close to the plant. They found small amounts of methanol and motor oil, but not enough to pose a health threat.

Nexeo Solutions says most of its plant here went unaffected by the explosion and fire. The company says says safety is its top priority, and that it corrected problems previously cited at its facilities in Massachusetts and in Garland.

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