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No Chemicals Involved in Dow Fire

No chemical reaction was involved in the Dow Chemical Plant fire last week.

Moisture in a light fixture is to blame for a reported .

“Any fire is a concern obviously," said Paul Connor, the Director of Environmental Health and Safety for Dow Electronic Materials which is part of Dow Chemical Company. "There was never any chemistry involved in this particular incident."

The fire in a light fixture triggered a sprinkler, although fire officials responded to the scene as well, he said.

When asked bluntly whether the operations at the company should be of any concern to residents, Connor responded with a straightforward statement.

“I live in the city myself,” he said. "We have a long, long history of a very safe operation and sound environmental performance and we bill that as part of the way we do business.”

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There are a number of safety measures — both state and federally mandated — which are in place at the plant, said Connor.

“We’ve been at this for quite some time," said Connor who explained the plant has been in place since 1982 and follows EPA and OSHA standards. "A lot of our procedures go far beyond those compliances."

The site has roughly 500 employees and is part of the global Dow Chemical Company which has sites throughout the world. The Forest Street site materials for global electronic firms and is one of 20 such sites owned by Dow throughout the world.

“It is classified as a chemical company but mostly we just make mixtures,” said Connor.

There are potentially hazardous materials at play in some of these processes, he said. The company reviews safety procedures throughout the entire process of creating these mixtures — from how the building is designed to administrative controls and safety equipment.

These safety procedures include ongoing coordination with the fire department and the city's local emergency management committee.

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