Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Investigation Into Coke Works Blast Underway

Emergency officials say the situation at the Clairton Coke Works has stabilized following an explosion and fire at the facility. The blast occurred at 9:37 this morning at the U.S. Steel coke plant. 15 workers were injured with varying degrees of burns. Dan Laurent, a spokesman for the West Penn Health Allegheny Health System, says three of the injured are in the West Penn Hospital Burn Unit, 2 of them in critical condition.
Gloria Kreps of UPMC says 6 workers are being treated at Mercy Hospital, 3 at UPMC Presbyterian and 1 at McKeesport Hospital. Doctor Alain Corcos, a burn specialist at Mercy, says one patient was treated and released but 4 are in serious condition and one man is in critical condition from burns to his face and airway system.
Two workers were taken to Jefferson Regional Hospital, one with minor burns and the other was suffering from chest pains.
U.S. Steel spokeswoman Erin DiPietro issued a statement confirming the explosion and fire at the "B" Battery of the coke works..."I do not have any information about the possible cause of the incident, but an investigation will be conducted. We will assess the extent of repairs and impact on operations at a later time."

Initial reports indicate that flammable gas in one of the coke ovens ignited. OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has begun an investigation. OSHA Pittsburgh Director Robert Szymanski says they have a team of investigators on site "trying to determine what happened, why it happened and how it can be prevented from happening again, and in the process of these events were there any violations of our standards."

Last September a worker was killed in an explosion at the Clairton Coke Works.

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