VA--New River Investigation Ongoing into Gas Leak Blast Cause : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Sunday, March 12, 2000

New River Castings investigation goes on

Gas leak blast's cause

The explosion occurred in the basement of the main building beneath the core department.


RADFORD -- Investigators said Saturday that last week's explosion at the New River Castings plant stemmed from a gas leak, confirming what workers suspected.

Officials said the explosion stemmed from a leak of either natural gas or another substance workers call T-Gas, which is used to harden sand in molds where cast-iron auto parts are made.

Investigation will continue into the March 5 explosion, which killed three workers and shut down one of Radford's largest employers, officials said.

The ATF National Response Team, a unit that investigated the Oklahoma City and World Trade Center bombings, is going home, however. The team concluded that the explosion was accidental.

Investigators said it occurred in the basement of the foundry's main building beneath the core department, where workers pressed sand into molds before molten metal was poured.

Two of the workers who were killed, Karen Anderson Hamilton of Christiansburg and Debbie Sheppard of Riner, worked in the core department. Curtis Grooms of Floyd County worked in the adjacent finishing area.

Though reference works list T-Gas as a common name for ethylene oxide, Sgt. Kenny Ford of the Radford Police Department said another gas now is used in the plant. Workers still call it T-Gas, officials explained.

The gas at the plant is dimethylethylamine, also called DMEA. The gas is extremely flammable.

Ford said investigators are looking into possible regulatory violations at the plant, owned by Troy, Mich.-based Intermet Corp.

-- (, March 12, 2000

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