The nearly five-story asphalt plant north of Clements was about a week from being complete when an explosion ripped through it Wednesday afternoon.
The explosion sent pieces of pipe - some as large as a small vehicle - flying across the plant site.
"They were in the process of getting all the motors in sync," said Ron Suza, vice president of George Reed Inc. which owns the Jahant Road plant.
The explosion, which occurred at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, slightly injured one employee, Todd Tipton of Waterford.
Tipton was injured when he was hit by glass from the windshield of a nearby pickup shattered from the shock wave caused by the explosion. He was treated for minor cuts on his hands at Lodi Memorial Hospital and released.
Six other employees near the explosion site were uninjured, Clements fire officials said.
"They were very, very lucky," said Fred Manding, fire chief for the Clements Fire Protection District.
On Thursday agents from the plant's insurance companies were still trying to determine the cause of the explosion as well as the cost to repair the plant owned by George Reed Inc. and Basic Resources Inc.
The asphalt plant, located in a gravel pit off Jahant Road, would have mixed sand and gravel with oil to produce the black substance. During the process, propane is used to heat the mixture to temperatures up to 300 degrees.
The million-dollar plant was built beside a 20-year-old plant that now stands in the shadow of the explosion-torn facility.
Two fire engines, a water truck and a rescue truck from Clements Fire Protection District responded to the explosion and administered first aid to Tipton. No fire resulted from the explosion.
Comments about this story? Send mail to the News-Sentinel newsroom.