Halifax, N.S. Two Injured in Brewery Explosion

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Halifax Herald

Tuesday, July 11, 2000

The Halifax Herald Limited

Two workers hurt in brewery lab blast

By Davene Jeffrey / Staff Reporter

A man was in fair condition in hospital Monday after a chemical explosion at Oland Brewery in Halifax.

Shortly after the 2 p.m. explosion, a 22-year-old woman was led from the main entrance of the Agricola Street building by paramedics and a firefighter.

The woman was wrapped in a white flannel blanket. Little more than her eyes and nose was visible, but a white bandage could be seen on her forehead.

Although the woman was walking, she was shaking.

She appeared to be speaking with paramedics as she was helped onto a stretcher and put into the back of the ambulance.

A 45-year-old man with facial burns and cuts on his legs and hands left the building by another entrance and was taken by ambulance to Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre.

The woman was treated and released, hospital spokeswoman Cheryl Lowe said.

The employees were injured when sulphuric acid and propylene glycol were accidentally mixed, said Larry Williams, acting platoon chief for Halifax regional fire service.

The chemicals "created an exothermic reaction and the container blew and subsequently two people were burned in the process," the acting platoon chief said.

A third lab worker, uninjured in the blast, was working with fire and plant officials Monday to determine what had happened.

That worker, along with two other employees who briefly entered the lab after the explosion, were asked to go to the hospital to be checked out.

They were all examined and sent home.

Shortly after the explosion, the lab, on the fourth floor of the building, was sealed off and the third and second floors evacuated, acting platoon chief Joe Ryan said.

At the time, officials were worried about people inhaling fumes from the chemical mix.

But concerns increased later in the afternoon, when firefighters in protective suits entered the lab to assess the damage.

Their inspection of the room showed that several containers of other chemicals had broken in the blast.

Shortly before 7 p.m., firefighters and plant chemists were trying to determine what sort of toxic mix had been created in the lab and how to clean it up.

Investigators from the Labour Department were also on hand, trying to figure out what had gone wrong.

On Monday evening, brewery manager Glen Kilback contacted media covering the story.

"Going forward, our focus is on our employee's full recovery. . . . We are investigating the circumstances which caused the accident, so we can avoid that in the future," Mr. Kilback said.

The employee who remains in hospital has undetermined injuries, he said.

The area that was evacuated contained offices and the brewing area, the plant manager said.

As of Monday evening, the bottling and distribution portion of the brewery was still operational.

Mr. Kilback said he didn't know when brewing would resume.

The president of the union representing brewery workers could not be reached for comment.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), July 11, 2000

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