Pasadena, TX Paper Mill Explosion, Feb 1957

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ONE KILLED, SEVEN INJURED IN PAPER MILL EXPLOSION.

Houston, Texas, Feb. 22 (AP) - A shattering explosion rocked a paper manufacturing plant today, killing one man and injuring at least seven others.
The explosion sprung two 125,000-gallon tanks in which liquid caustic soda was stored, causing their contents to leak to the ground. Between 20 and 30 other persons suffered light burns as a result of walking through the liquid or in handling materials drenched with the liquid.
There was no immediate explanation of what caused the explosion.
The explosion caused a fire which could be seen for miles. The blast was heard for a great distance.
Rescue vehicles clogged streets leading to the plant of the Champion Paper and Fiber Co. where the explosion occurred.
The plant, on the ship channel at Pasadena, about 8 or 10 miles from downtown Houston, is in a vast petro-chemical industrial area.
The shattering series of Texas City explosions took place about 20 miles away April 16, 1947. Those explosions took 512 lives.
The dead man was LEE R. CLEMENTS of Houston. He was found under the tank which exploded and died later of burns.
Company officials were unable to determine the cause of the explosion immediately. The area remained extremely hot for hours after the fire, which was brought under control about two hours after it broke out.
The injured, all from Pasadena, were listed as CECIL A. KIRKLAND, 40, a pipefitter foreman; C. N. COENS, 40, an electrician; G. T. ROBERTS, 37, an electrician; JAMES BARNES, 31; W. J. CASKEY, 43; V. L. MILLS, 50, an electrician; and W. J. LYLES, 39. All suffered relatively slight burns.
Between 20 and 30 others suffered light burns as a result of walking through acid on the ground or in handling acid-drenched materials.
M. L. Armentrout, a plant engineer,
was credited by company officials with keeping the explosion from developing into a major disaster.
Armentrout, head of the Pasadena civil defense organization, coordinated firefighting and rescue efforts via a civil defense radio system linking chemical plants in the ship channel area.
The speed with which fire departments reported after Armentrout's alert was credited with preventing spread of the fire into a disaster.
The company said the paper mill will be shut down for two or three days and possibly a week.
About 1,800 persons were employed in the plant.
Bendetsea said the damage was
"significant but not major."
Caustic soda is used in "cocking" and refining wood pulp to be made into paper.

Abilene Reporter-News Texas 1957-02-23