Steel Plant Blast Injures 15

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 @ 02:07 PM gHale

At least 15 workers were hurt, one critically, after an oven at a U.S. Steel plant near Pittsburgh exploded earlier today, officials said. The blast also resulted in a fire that burned for hours afterward.
The explosion in the coke oven at United States Steel Corp.’s Clairton Coke Works occurred at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Allegheny County spokesman Kevin Evanto said. During the incident, 14 workers suffered burns and another suffered chest pains.
Everyone was accounted for, and the cause was under investigation, officials said. The plant, which employs 1,500 workers, is in a valley along the Monongahela River about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh.
Coke, a raw material used to make steel, is coal they bake for a long time at a high temperature to remove impurities.
Workers took lunch breaks around noon, as an Allegheny County sheriff’s car sat parked at one of the entrances, along with an ambulance.
U.S. Steel said the Clairton plant is the biggest coke manufacturing facility in the U.S., with production tallies of about 4.7 million tons per year.
At least one worker was in critical condition in the burn unit at West Penn Hospital, spokesman Dan Laurent said.

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