SOMBER REMEMBRANCE: No injuries in Eastman explosion that occurs on deadly anniversary

Left: A vantage point from Oct. 4, 1960 following an explosion at Eastman Chemical Co. that killed 16 people. (Kingsport Archives) Right: Smoke rises from a blast at a coal gasification plant on the Eastman campus- 57 years to the day. (R. Frazier / Special to News 5)

Wednesday marked the 57th anniversary of a deadly day in Eastman Chemical history. On that somber note, company officials were tasked with another explosion with, thankfully, a remarkable outcome.

In a briefing held Wednesday afternoon, Eastman Senior Vice President David Golden said some workers were only treated for scrapes following several blasts that originated at the company's coal gasification plant near Jared Drive in Kingsport.

Multiple explosions caused one of Tennessee's largest employers and city emergency officials to issue shelter in place advisories for most of the afternoon for nearby homes and schools until giving the all-clear just after 4 p.m.

Those blasts could be heard several miles away and shook windows in nearby homes and businesses, according to social media posts made by News 5 viewers.

Golden said a directive to have neighbors to turn off heating and cooling systems in their homes and buildings was done out of an abundance of caution while Eastman officials analyzed emissions from the explosion that he said consisted mostly of carbon monoxide and hydrogen.

On the very date that police closed highways to insure safety to residents, Golden was reminded of the 1960 blast that killed 16 workers and injured more than 200, according to information provided to News 5 by the Kingsport Archives.

"It's a terrible coincidence," Golden noted.

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