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ConAgra blast was an accident

23 June 2009

The suggestion that the explosion and fire at ConAgra Foods, which occurred earlier this month, resulted from suspicious circumstances has been ruled out by a team of investigators from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF). Early reports from the North Carolina food plant suggested that the damage could have been the result of a terrorist act or some criminal action.

ConAgra blast was an accident
ConAgra blast was an accident

These rumours have been firmly denied by the BATF team which stated that the cause of the Garner blast was accidental and not criminal.

A spokesman from the BATF national response team said the plant disaster, which killed three workers and injured dozens, was caused by an accidental natural gas leak. “We've been able to make entry into the location of the explosion, which was in pump room number two,” a BATF agent explained.

The gas leak was contained into a pump room, which houses vacuum pumps for sealing the snacks, and was ignited when one of the electrical components in that room started. BATF believes that the spark could have been created by a fan motor or thermostat, but the bureau has not ruled out static electricity. Such electrical equipment would be capable of igniting natural gas even if it were operating normally. The destructive nature of the explosion destroyed much of the evidence as what caused the explosion.

About 300 employees were in the plant at the time of the explosion, which blew out a wall and punched holes in the roof, sparked fires and ruptured the plant's ammonia lines. The investigation has now been turned over to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the US Chemical Safety Board who will follow up the cause of the leak and try to determine the ignition source.

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