Probe in N.Y. Oil Depot Blast Continues
NEW YORK (AP) _ A badly burned survivor of Friday’s deadly explosion and fire at an oil storage depot told police he heard a strange noise coming from the pumps just before the blast.
Frank Scandariato, an Exxon Mobil Corp. worker, was in a shack that contained equipment allowing him to shut down the operation when he stepped out to look for the source of the noise, a police official familiar with the investigation said Saturday.
``Next thing he knew, he was getting blown to wherever he got blown to,″ said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Staten Island explosion and resulting fire, on a barge unloading gasoline at the Exxon Mobil depot, killed two people, shook surrounding areas and sent black smoke billowing over the city skyline.
The blast also raised terrorism fears, but officials said there was no evidence suggesting it was anything but an accident.
Police said they were looking into a pump malfunction as a possible cause. The official said a mechanic was called aboard the barge after it arrived Thursday night, and that investigators believe he was called to work on the pump system.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Matthew Belson declined to comment on whether the investigation was focusing on a possible pump malfunction.
Killed were the barge captain, John Kyne, 52, of Huntsville, Ala., and mate Ford Ebanks, 24, of Miami, according to a spokeswoman for Hicksville-based Bouchard Transportation Co., which owned the barge.
Scandariato, 48, of Middletown, N.J., was in critical but stable condition Saturday with burns over 15 percent of his body, according to hospital officials.
A small fire continued to burn Saturday at the edge of the pier next to the barge, but officials said they believed environmental damage from the accident would be minimal.
``There is no fuel in the water. It burned off,″ Coast Guard Petty Officer Jaime Bigelow said. He also said the air was safe, but added that officials still were assessing shoreline damage.
Exxon Mobil was working on a salvage plan to remove the remains of the exploded barge, Belson said.
Exxon Mobil did not immediately respond to a request for comment.