Barbour County citizens react to second explosion at gas plant

Published: Jun. 21, 2017 at 6:27 PM EDT
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The McDonald Volunteer Fire Department has posted news of the passing of Chief Scott Albertini on their website. This is the second explosion to happen at the Midland Resource Recovery chemical plant in a month.

We reached out to Midland for a statement on the accident but they declined to comment at this time.

A day later, residents of Philippi and Barbour County are reacting to the second explosion at Midland Resource Recovery this month.

After the second explosion at Midland Resource Recovery, residents are upset with the company's handling of employee safety.

Three deaths have occurred at the natural gas plant due to explosions and residents are saying that the company needs to do more to ensure their employee's well being.

"Like in the area where it exploded, people there and maybe passerbys," Barbour County native Donna Smith said. "There’s been two deaths and I feel like something really needs to be done and I am concerned about the safety of others."

Smith said that she is also concerned for residents who live near the plant, as additional explosions could put people who aren't employed by the company in harm's way.

However, Philippi Fire Chief Dave Utt said that he consulted with the company this morning and the public shouldn't feel concerned.

"As far as the public is concerned for people in the area, the stuff that's in the tanks is not hazardous to your health as far as breathing or anything like that," Chief Utt said. "The only safety concerns we're getting would be an explosion in the yard where the tanks are stored. So as long as nobody's out there in the yard where the tanks are stored, we should be okay."

And one Philippi local defended the presence of the natural gas plant because of the mountain state's reliance on that form of fuel.

"Well I just think that natural gas is an important part of our economy here," Alex Thomas said. "And so yeah, I definitely think that it should stay open, I think there should be more inspections. I think this is a learning experience."

While Midland didn't comment on yesterday's accident, Chief Utt said that they have a plan to increase employee safety going forward.