Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2017

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Massive explosion still a memory in Las Vegas


James Kenney / Sun File Photo

A helicopter flies over the smoldering remains of the Pacific Engineering Production Company of Nevada after two large explosions destroyed the plant, May 7, 1988.

Pepcon Explosion

Barbara Hepworth assesses the damage to her home May 6, 1988. Windows and doors of homes and businesses nearby were shattered when two blasts destroyed the Pacific Engineering Production Company of Nevada plant May 4, 1988. Launch slideshow »

Twenty-six years ago today, a massive explosion at Pacific Engineering & Production Company of Nevada — known as PEPCON — in Henderson killed two people, caused $70 million in damage and sent shock waves hundreds of miles.

The facility produced ammonium perchlorate — used to boost the performance of rocket fuel.

For those who lived in the Las Vegas Valley at the time, it’s a key memory.

“I think about the blast every time I see a plume of smoke,” Henderson Home News blogger Mandy Walton wrote in 2009. “It’s a memory that just won’t go away.”

Calls for action after the disaster led to new laws to limit the amount of hazardous materials that can be stored in a location.

But years later, there are still chemicals being produced and stored in the area.

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