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California wastewater plant explosion hospitalises 52

24 November 2014

On November 18 an explosion at the Santa Paula wastewater facility north west of Los Angeles sent 52 people to local hospitals, including 10 firefighters. All but two were quickly treated and released and no injuries were considered life-threatening. Most of the injured complained of burning eyes and breathing difficulties.

Stock image
Stock image

Two workers were removing 1,200 gallons of liquid chemicals with a vacuum truck when the truck exploded, spraying a mixture containing sulphuric acid and an organic peroxide around the site.
The chemicals crystallized and became combustible when exposed to air, according to a Ventura County Fire Department spokeswoman.

Firefighters pulled back as their shoes were sparking explosions as they walked on the dry chemical. Because they were not sure what type of chemical it was, they allowed the post-explosion fires to burn themselves out without water.

After the blast, all homes, farms, businesses and schools within a mile of the site were evacuated. The evacuation was finally lifted on November 22.

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