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Explosions Hit U.S. Steel Works

February 19, 1985

BRADDOCK, Pa. (AP) _ Explosions hit U.S. Steel Corp.’s Edgar Thomson Works twice within 12 hours, and one blast critically injured three workers, authorities said.

No one was reported hurt in the second series of blasts Monday night in the basic oxygen process shop, according to company spokesman David Higie.

″There were several explosions at 11:30 p.m. I heard at least 10,″ said Braddock police dispatcher Josephine Paul, who lives three blocks from the mill.″I could see sparks just shooting up in the sky. It looked like Roman candles.″

Officials investigating the first explosion are trying to discover how moisture entered a vessel containing molten iron, which they said caused the blast.

The first explosion occurred at 12:30 p.m. Monday when molten iron came into contact with moisture in a basic oxygen process vessel, Higie said. The vessel is used to convert iron into steel.

″Molten metal is never supposed to come into contact with water or moisture,″ Higie said.

The company is investigating the cause of the second explosion, he said.

″It happened in the same vessel″ as the first explosion, he said, ″but as to the exact cause, I’m really not sure.″

Listed in critical condition today in the burn unit of West Penn Hospital with second- and third-degree burns were: Richard Alker, 35, of Robinson Township; Joseph Venturella, 32, of Verona; and David Abadie, 29, of Trafford.

Alker and Venturella are U.S. Steel employees. Abadie is employed by Quigley Co., an independent contracting firm hired by the steelmaker.

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