Governor issues disaster declaration after Neodesha plant explosion

Firefighters work to contain a fire at a southeast Kansas chemical plant after an explosion there injured one employee. (Courtesy: KHP)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has issued a State of Disaster Emergency declaration for Montgomery and Wilson Counties in response to an explosion and fire at the Airosol Company in Neodesha at approximately 6:30 a.m. Nov. 23.

The plant manufactures and packages aerosols and liquid products for a variety of industries. The cause of the explosion is under investigation. One person was critically injured.

“‎Our first priority is the health and safety of all those affected by this explosion,” said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the adjutant general and director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management. “We stand alongside the governor, local officials and volunteers, offering immediate, on-the-ground support. During this time of Thanksgiving, we are extremely thankful no lives were lost and pray for the swift recovery of those injured.”

KDEM activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka and is coordinating response and recovery efforts. KDEM has deployed regional coordinators to the area to provide technical assistance to county emergency managers.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has issued do not drink orders for the city’s public water supply. Public water systems along the Verdigris River downstream from the incident, including Independence and Coffeyville, were advised to close their water intakes until further notice so they don’t draw in contaminants from chemicals and/or fire retardant used for to fight fire.

KDEM is coordinating bottled water in conjunction with multiple volunteer organizations. A 6,500 gallon water tanker is supplying water to the Wilson County hospital.