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Eastman: coal gasification plant restarting after October explosions

Eastman: Coal gasification plant restarting

KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Eastman Chemical Company is restarting its coal gasification plant three months after a powerful explosion there rocked Kingsport. on October 4th, two explosions and a fire at Eastman Chemical Company shook the area. No one was injured, but smoke was seen for miles, and nearby residents were told to shelter in place. Neighbors are remembering the day of the explosions, but also talking about the coal gasification plant's operation restart.

"The day of the explosions, I experienced shaking of my house, I heard the noise," says neighbor Regina Larosa.

"I was watching TV and I heard a boom and the first thing I imagined was a car hit the house or something of that nature," says neighbor James Putney.

Neighbors clearly recall the day of the explosions.

"I heard the second boom and it actually rattled the pictures on the wall and at that point I knew something wasn't right," Putney says.

I immediately came outside and saw a huge black plumes of smoke... Black smoke, it was very frightening," Larosa says.

Neighbors say the immense power of the explosions was startling.

"Walked out my front door and as soon as I came out I actually heard the third explosion I felt the shockwave from the third explosion," says Putney.

Now, months after what Eastman has called a 'process upset' at the coal gasification plant, they say repairs have been made, and the plant is ready to resume normal operation.

In a statement,  Mark Cox, senior vice president with Eastman says:

"...I am confident that we have taken the appropriate corrective actions to ensure the highest safety standard as we restart and resume normal operation."

Neighbors are also feeling confident.

"I know that Eastman is a big chemical company and they're not going to do anything that they see could be a danger, so I feel like if they think it's safe to reopen I would imagine it would be," Putney says.

"I think Eastman is responsibly going to take every safety precaution they can and I feel perfectly comfortable," Larosa says.

Eastman says the explosions are expect to cost the company between 50 and 100-million dollars this year.

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