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Posted on January 10th, 2023

Our Changing Landscape – Chemical Planet Explosion in Georgia, USA

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with a time series of medium-resolution PlanetScope satellite imagery. The PlanetScope constellation dates back to 2016 and collects hundreds of millions of square kilometers of four, five and eight-band 3-meter imagery daily! In December, we looked at the impact Hurricane Ian had on Sanibel Island, off the coast of Florida. This month, we’re headed to coastal Georgia in the United States to look at a chemical plant explosion that occurred there in November.

The PlanetScope Microsat Constellation

PlanetScope is a constellation of more than 240 microsats (as of January 2022) referred to individually as Doves. Each Dove is able to collect up to 20,000 square kilometers (sq km) per day of 3-meter (m) 4-band multispectral (i.e. blue, green, red and near-infrared [NIR]) imagery; and newly launched SuperDoves collect 8-band multispectral adding in valuable red-edge spectral data. Across the constellation, PlanetScope is archiving more than 200 million sq km of medium-resolution imagery a day, making it the go to source for daily imagery over most locations. This massive archive dates back to 2016, offering the most complete and continuous record of spatial data on the planet since the start of the constellation’s ongoing launch schedule. Collecting 3-meter multispectral imagery is the equivalent of ‘high-resolution’ multispectral data imaged by a 75-centimer (cm) satellite (as this satellite would feature 75-cm panchromatic and 3-m multispectral), making PlanetScope an extremely competitively priced option at just $1.80 per sq km. With well registered images and nearly daily collections of most locations, PlanetScope is the ideal imagery source for this current-events focused series, Our Changing Landscape.

Click on the image above to see an animation of 3-meter natural color PlanetScope imagery collected over the Symrise chemical plant outside of Brunswick, Georgia, USA on November 2 and 8, 2022. First you might try to locate the Symrise chemical plant in these images, look at the center of the image and then go down and to the left a tiny bit, there you will see a facility surrounded by woods on three sides. Now if you look at the November 8th image, you can see a trail of smoke rising from one of the Symrise buildings and expanding over the forest to the south – which means the chemical plant fire is still smoldering in this 3-m PlanetScope image. (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2023)

Symrise Chemical Plant Explosion Outside Brunswick, Georgia

On Monday, November 7th, 2022, several neighborhoods outside of Brunswick, Georgia were evacuated after a fire started and chemical explosions were reported in a chemical plant nearby. The chemical plant is owned by Symrise, a German company that produces flavors and fragrances. The companies’ products are used around the world as ingredients in beauty products, beverages and pet food.

A fire was reported in the Symrise chemical plant around 4 AM Monday November 7, 2022. Employees were evacuated from the building and neighborhoods within a 1-mile radius were also ordered to evacuate to prevent harm from the explosions and potential smoke. It is estimated that approximately 100 households were told to evacuate. Schools and neighborhoods within a 3-mile radius were given orders to shelter in place while firefighters worked to control the blaze.

Although fire officials have yet to officially determine the cause of the fire and explosions, the Glynn County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agent stated, “The chemical source of the fire is hydrogen peroxide pinene which is manufactured at the plant.”

The firefighters battling the blaze depleted more than 1 million gallons of water that were stored on the factory premises before requesting additional resources. One firefighter was reported to have suffered from exhaustion, and was taken to the hospital for treatment where he recovered. There were no other injuries. The fire was under control and expected to burn itself out by the late afternoon of November 7th.

One of the biggest questions residents of the surrounding areas asked after the fire was, “Will there be lasting health and safety risks from the chemical plant explosion?” According to public information officer Captain Eric Prosswimmer, who responded to the scene with a hazmat team, there will be no lasting risks. According to Prosswimmer, hydrogen peroxide pinene is an odorant used to make fragrances, and wind and humidity on the day of the fire helped to disseminate any byproducts quickly and effectively.

While no official details have been released regarding the scope of the damage sustained to the factory, it can be assumed that there will be plans to rebuild it in the near future. In the meantime, come check out the 3-meter PlanetScope imagery featured here to see some of the damage sustained by the Symrise factory during the fire and subsequent explosions.

If you would like to find out more about using 3-meter PlanetScope imagery for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at or (303) 993-3863.

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