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Washington state wastewater facility explosion injures five

24 February 2012

A blast at the Picnic Point Wastewater Treatment Facility in Edmonds, near Seattle, on 23 February injured five workers. Local news sources say that at least three have life-threatening injuries. Damage to the plant is expected to total more than $1 million.

A propane tank was being loaded onto a truck when the blast occurred
A propane tank was being loaded onto a truck when the blast occurred

Workers were building a water-treatment plant, and around 60 were on site when the explosion occurred as a 1,000-gallon propane tank was being loaded onto a truck to be removed from the site. Some 300 gallons were in the tank, which snapped a valve during the loading process, allowing the propane to escape. Ignition was immediate, and the blaze reached two nearby buildings and an adjacent forested area.

The explosion had a blast zone with a 300-foot radius, according to investigators from the Snohomish County Fire Marshal’s office.

All five of the injured workers were inside the larger of the two buildings damaged by the explosion. Fire investigators believe a second explosion occurred inside the building when flames from the first blast ripped through the building and ignited flammable vapours that workers were using to apply paint.

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