West Pharmaceutical Blast: Five Years Later

Tuesday marks the fifth anniversary of the explosion in Kinston that killed six and injured dozens more. At 1:29 p.m. on January 29, 2003, a tiny amount of dust ignited and set off a deadly explosion.

Six people lost their lives because of that blast. The victims were James Byrd, Kevin Cruiess, Allen Earl "Butch" Grant, William Gray, Milton Murrell, and Faye Jones Wilkins.

People working in the West Pharmaceutical Plant on what began as an ordinary work day say the explosion sounded like rolling thunder. People 25 miles away from the plant reported hearing the blast. The explosion blew out the windows at nearby Parrott Academy in Kinston.

In the weeks and months that followed the explosion, many of the survivors took temporary positions working at West Pharmaceutical plants in other states, like Nebraska.

In August 2004, West Pharmaceutical cut the ribbon on a new plant on U.S. 70 in Kinston. Just last fall, the company announced it was expanding its operation in Kinston.


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