Explosion, fire at Blue Island Phenol, burn injuries reported

Written By Sun-Times Wire Posted: 12/13/2013, 12:02pm

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An explosion the the Blue Island Phenol refinery Friday afternoon resulted in injuries and an active fire, according to reports via social media and witnesses on the scene.

Though crews are on hand to handle the incident, a spokesman for the school district tells reporter Donna Vickroy that there is no evacuation for nearby Dwight D. Eisenhower High School.

“We have been assured no risk to Eisenhower, so school continues as usual,” Bob McParland, spokesperson for district 218 said.

The SouthtownStar is reporting on the story and details are developing here. Reporter Casey Toner is on the scene – follow him on Twitter for updates.

UPDATE, 1:50 p.m.: Blue Island Mayor Domingo Vargas said that Blue Island Fire Chief Mark Luety was the first rescue worker on scene and he removed two injured people from the factory. Vargas also clarified that the facility is actually in Alsip, though there is a mailing address discrepancy.

Fire department equipment lines up on 131st street for a call of a fire and explosion at the refinery. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media

Fire department equipment lines up on 131st street for a call of a fire and explosion at the refinery. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media

The Blue Island Phenol refinery was formerly known as the Premcor facility.

The Environmental Protection Agency lists phenol as a hazardous material with some of the following symptoms caused by exposure:

Phenol is highly irritating to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes in humans after acute (short-term) inhalation or dermal exposures. Phenol is considered to be quite toxic to humans via oral exposure. Anorexia, progressive weight loss, diarrhea, vertigo, salivation, a dark coloration of the urine, and blood and liver effects have been reported in chronically (long-term) exposed humans. Animal studies have reported reduced fetal body weights, growth retardation, and abnormal development in the offspring of animals exposed to phenol by the oral route. EPA has classified phenol as a Group D, not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity.

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