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Ten people injured in Illinois steel plant blast

08 March 2013

At least 10 people have been injured, two critically, after an explosion at a steel castings plant in southwestern Illinois on March 7, officials said. Seven workers were treated for smoke inhalation. The explosion occurred after gas caught fire in the finishing area of the American Steel Foundries plant in Granite City, northeast of St. Louis. 

The plant, which makes railcar undercarriages and related components, employs around 800.

Robert Lott, a worker at the plant and president of the United Steelworkers Local 1063, told the Belleville News-Democrat that at least two of those injured may have suffered broken legs and internal injuries. He said he believed the blast was caused by a gas leak.

"I could see flames, initially, and then the visibility went down to zero from the dust that fell from the rafters," Lott said. A similar explosion happened at the factory about 20 years ago, he added.

The Assistant Fire Chief of Granite City, Jim Snelson said that gas caught fire near to a grinding machine, which set off a flash explosion.

Several of the injured were burned by the explosion but Snelson said the blast did not set off a fire at the plant.

American Steel Foundries is a division of Amsted Rail Co. 

A U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration official said OSHA has begun an investigation.

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