Explosion at hazardous waste facility kills one

Article by Amanda Doyle

AN explosion at a US Ecology facility in Idaho, US, has killed one worker and injured three.

The explosion occurred at 09:23 on 16 November during a routine process involving powdered magnesium products. Officials said a series of chemical reactions followed the initial blast. Equipment operator Monte Green was working moving materials and was killed in the explosion. Three other people were hospitalised for non-life threatening injuries.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were at the site on the following day. There was no threat to the public and no evacuations took place.

Jeff Feeler, chairman and CEO of US Ecology, said: “Today is an exceptionally hard day for our team. As we mourn the loss of one of our own, we are also moving forward to try and figure out exactly what happened. US Ecology is committed to finding the cause and working closely with the agencies and teams on site to ensure a thorough investigation.”

Simon Bell, the company’s vice president of operations and chief operating officer, said of the building: “Most of the skin has been blown out, and much of the metal has been bent. It would have been a large explosion based on the damage to the building.”

US Ecology takes hazardous inorganic waste such as arsenic, lead, zinc, cadmium and other metals and converts them to non-hazardous residues, which are then buried on site.

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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