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Chemical plant Voltaix officials search for cause of fire

By Jamie Peter, WFMZ.com Reporter, JPeter@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 27 2013 09:37:52 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 28 2013 12:29:11 PM CDT

Voltaix check cause of fire

UPPER MOUNT BETHEL TWP., Pa. -

A chemical company in Northampton County is now focused on pinpointing the cause of a fire Thursday night.

There was no evidence of an environmental problem and no employees were injured in the fire that broke out around 10 p.m. at the plant in Upper Mount Bethel Township, Peter Smith,Voltaix CEO, said Friday morning.

Explosions and a fire were reported at 103 Demi Rd., near the border with Portland and the Delaware River, officials said.

Voltaix Inc., founded in 1986, manufactures specialty materials that enhance the performance of microelectronics and photovoltaics.

The fire broke out in waste collection tank in a controlled lab in the plant.  No one was in the room where the fire started, Smith said. The fire was finally extinguished around 12:45 a.m. Friday, officials said.

Smith attributed the lack of injuries and environmental problems to doing drills with local emergency responders.

"Our plants are remotely located so our control room is let's say 75 yards from the actual operations, so the design theory of our plant is to keep the people away from our operations, and that was a safety feature that paid off today," he explained.

"We're happy where we're at. there's minimal damage to a tank and some pipes, but we're most happy that there's no impact to the environment or people," said Smith.

Initially crews were worried chemicals may have been leaking from the plant.  According to the Voltaix website some of its chemical gases can be deadly if inhaled.  Other gases can cause thermal burns.

Route 611 at River Road and the toll booth were shut down during the incident.

Smith said he expects normal operations to resume next week but it could be delayed if there's trouble finding a cause.