1 injured in Monroe chemical explosion

Chemical reaction caused small eruption, flash fire at flavor company

Multiple medical helicopters and fire and hazardous materials units from Monroe, Middletown and Liberty Twp. responded to Alfrebro LLC, 1055 Reed Road, a flavor manufacturing company.

The Monroe Communications Center received a 911 hangup call about 12:38 p.m. from the plant. When dispatchers called the number back and no one answered, they sent police to investigate. A minute later, dispatchers received automatic commercial fire alarms at the facility and dispatched fire crews to the scene. Additional hazardous materials units assistance was requested from Middletown and Liberty Twp.

Fire Chief John Centers said a worker was injured at the plant while transferring the chemical acetal from one 55-gallon drum into another 55-gallon drum when a chemical reaction created a flash fire and explosion in one of the drums, which ruptured.

Centers did not say the nature of the workers injuries, however Monroe police Lt. Brian Curlis said earlier, “We have some burn injuries. And there are hazardous chemicals at the site.”

Centers said the identity of the worker was being withheld until family could be contacted.

Acetal is a raw ingredient used in food flavoring, Centers said.

Jackie Anderson, a spokeswoman for parent company Archer Daniels Midland Company, said Alfrebro employees promptly extinguished the fire and as a precaution, they called for Monroe firefighters and evacuated the building.

“We are currently investigating the cause of the incident, and we are cooperating with authorities in their investigation,” Anderson said. “We are also with the employee’s family at the hospital.”

Reed Road was closed for a short time until declared safe. About two dozen workers stood outside across the street from the plant while fire and hazmat crews responded. Those workers were allowed to return to the facility about an hour later.

Other than some EMS calls, Centers said he could not recall previous significant incidents at the facility. The Monroe Fire Department is investigating the incident.

Alfrebro is a manufacturer of natural extracts and aroma chemicals. WILD Flavors Inc., another company in the flavors industry, acquired Alfrebro LLC in 2013. The company was recently acquired by Archer Daniels Midland Company, an agricultural processor and food ingredient manufacturer based in Chicago.

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