An explosion was reported at the Olin Brass plant in East Alton, Illinois on Tuesday and at least two employees have been injured. According to KTVI, company officials and representatives from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are now investigating the cause of the explosion, which occurred in one of the site’s casting units.
“There was a loud explosion, like a gun going off,” subcontractor Cory Douglas, who was in the parking lot, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I heard ‘boom!'”
Olin Brass produces brass sheets for a large range of industries, including ammunition, but does not store gunpowder near the plant. The nearby Olin Corporation’s Winchester Division, which manufactures ammunition, does. In February a destructive fire broke out at the Winchester Division plant and consumed a carpenter’s shop, nearly igniting a number of propane cylinders nearby.
Olin Brass spokesperson Ann Pipkin said that the plant has an in-house team of 30 firefighters and medical personal, which responded to the incident along with firefighters from the East Alton Fire Department. Two employees were injured by the blast and transported to local hospitals. One worker has already been treated and released while another was airlifted to Mercy Hospital’s burn unit in Creve Coeur. That worker’s condition has not been announced.
Olin Brass was formerly owned by the Olin Corporation until it was sold to Global Brass in 2007. It currently employs over 1,000 employees and is capable of producing about a million pounds of copper products every day at the East Alton plant, which has been in operation for nearly a century. Some of this brass is used for commercial and military calibers up to 20mm. It is not currently known how the explosion will affect the plant’s output or the ammo makers it supplies.
You can see a video of the aftermath below: