Processing Magazine

Explosion at wastewater treatment plant kills worker

September 25, 2013

<photocredit>Nian Liu/iStockphoto/Thinkstock</photocredit>

A 58-year-old construction worker who was injured in an explosion at a wastewater treatment plant in the village of Canastota, N.Y., on Sept. 11 while welding a pipe into a tank has died, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Richard Whitney was working as a steamfitter for a subcontractor at the wastewater treatment facility. He was with his colleague Richard Sterling when the explosion occurred. Whitney suffered third-degree burns to most of his body and passed away Sept. 14 at a medical center in Boston. Sterling also had burns on his face and arms but after receiving treatment he was released from Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse.

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Authorities and emergency services in Canastota declined to provide details of the incident. Police Chief James Zophy stated that the explosion was an accident and there was no foul play, which was why police officers were not investigating. According to village mayor Carla DeShaw, officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were leading the investigation at the wastewater treatment plant.

Whitney worked for Joy Process Mechanical, which in turn was hired by Hubbard Construction -- a contractor carrying out renovation work at the facility for the village of Canastota, the Post-Standard reported. The majority of the work had been completed when the village decided to add another $35,000 project to replace the old digester gas piping, explained Martin Hubbard, president of Hubbard Construction.