9 Hurt in Rolls-Royce Plant Blast

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 @ 06:04 PM gHale

Nine workers at a Rolls-Royce aircraft-engine assembly plant near the Indianapolis International Airport suffered injuries Friday when a tank of nitric acid exploded and filled the building with a cloud of corrosive vapor, officials said.

None of the workers suffered life-threatening injuries when the 250-gallon tank exploded about 1:30 p.m., Capt. Mike Pruitt of the Wayne Township Fire Department said. The explosion released a vapor cloud that left the workers with burns and breathing problems.

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“Their main complaints were that they had inhaled it and they had some acid burns. It’s a corrosive acid,” he said.

Pruitt said eight workers went to local hospitals. Seven were in good condition, and the eighth is stable and had no serious injuries. The ninth person ended up treated at the scene.

The cause of the explosion – and how much acid released – remains under investigation by Rolls-Royce and fire officials, Pruitt said. He said they will interview the injured workers to determine how the explosion may have occurred and what they were doing before the blast.

The plant evacuated immediately after the explosion and the vapor later dissipated and officials allowed Rolls-Royce staff members back inside.

Rolls-Royce spokesman Joel Reuter said the tank containing the acid exploded either as it was moving or shortly after it had moved by a device used to transport equipment inside the plant.

“We’re still determining whether it was actually moving or what, but it was in some in type of transportation mode,” he said.

He said the plant’s workers assemble engines for military and commercial aircraft.

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