Processing Magazine

Explosion At Pennsylvania Coke Plant Under Investigation

July 15, 2010
The Associated Press reports an oven exploded at a U.S. Steel plant near Pittsburgh causing a powerful blast that injured 20 workers and started a fire that burned for hours. The blast bent steel beams and destroyed block walls at Clairton Coke Works Wednesday morning. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration had a team of investigators on site, spokeswoman Leni Fortson said. OHSA also had investigated a September 2009 blast in a different part of the plant that killed maintenance worker Nicholas Revetta, but they issued no citations against U.S. Steel. County air quality officials say the large cloud of smoke generated from the blast and other evidence indicate the explosion may have been caused by the gas used to heat one of the coke ovens. There are 12 batteries at the Clairton plant. In all, 14 employees and six contractors were injured. Several remained hospitalized including two people in critical condition at West Penn Hospital and three in critical condition at UPMC Mercy. Most suffered burns on their faces, necks and arms. The most critically injured also were suffering from chemical burns to their airways.