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December 22, 2009

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Engineer killed in plant blast

AN engineer was killed and two people injured when a reaction kettle exploded in a chemical plant in the Pudong New Area yesterday afternoon.

It was the second reaction kettle blast in the same plant this month.

The three victims were blown over in the thunderous explosion, witnesses said.

The 41-year-old engineer, surnamed Duan, died immediately. The injured were in stable condition after being sent to the Shanghai No. 7 People's Hospital, the hospital said last night.

Gases over-expanded in the boiler, leading to the blast and fire, allegedly through an error on the part of the workers, according to the district's safe-production supervision administration yesterday evening.

The case was still under investigation last night.

It was unclear if the air and waters around the plant were polluted by the chemical blast, said the Pudong environment authorities.

"There might be some chloride in the air and we will test the samples," said an inspector surnamed Jiang.

The accident happened about 1:30pm in the Shenli Chemical Co Ltd in Heqing Town, while workers were operating the reaction kettle.

Officials said they added chemicals too quickly.

"The smoke was so heavy with the big fire," said a worker who was in a dorm nearby.

The police, firefighters and other departments soon rushed to the plant and cordoned the area for investigation.

Windows of the neighboring households were broken from the shock wave but no residents were injured.

"It was so loud and I felt like my house shook in the blast, which really scared me," a resident said.

On December 9, a worker was injured in a blast of a reaction kettle about 8:40am.

The explosion's air wave broke the windows and doors of 10 nearby residential buildings and damaged solar panels on roof tops.

The police said the explosion was possibly caused by an error by the injured worker.

The plant said the worker was adding formaldehyde into the reaction kettle when it suddenly exploded.


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