PaintSquare.com


The First Word in Protective & Marine Coatings

A Product of Technology Publishing / PaintSquare
JPCL | PaintSquare News | Durability + Design | Paint BidTracker

Chemical & Petrochemical Plant Coating Systems

Paint and Coatings Industry News

Main News Page


Questions Smolder in Fatal Plant Blast

Thursday, May 31, 2012

More items for Health & Safety

Comment | More

Authorities are seeking answers after an explosion rocked a century-old paper mill in central Minnesota this week, leaving one worker dead, the facility precarious, and a major local employer in jeopardy.

The Memorial Day blast at Verso Paper Mill triggered a blaze that drew about 20 police, fire and emergency response agencies to Sartell, MN, north of St. Cloud on the east bank of the Mississippi River.

 Initial reports said an air compressor may have exploded, igniting the deadly blaze.

 Minnesota Public Radio

Firefighters worked at the scene of Monday’s fire into Thursday. Initial reports said an air compressor may have exploded, igniting the deadly blaze.

Employee Jon Michael Maus, 50, a married father of four, perished in the fire. Four other employees were treated at area hospitals and released.

About 100 employees were working at the time of the blast, officials said.

‘A Very Sad Day’

“This is a very sad day for Verso and the Verso family,” plant manager Matt Archambeau told reporters. “Obviously, our first priority is the safety and welfare of the Verso family, and we’ve got a lot of folks in there working right now to ensure that.”

Hazmat teams found no release of hazardous materials and were monitoring the scene, Heim said.

While Archambeau said the cause of the accident remained “very much unknown,” initial speculation focused on the explosion of an air compressor.

Firefighting Challenges

The explosion occurred at 11:30 a.m. on Monday (May 28) in the center of the facility’s warehouse area, and firefighters continued to fight the last of the stubborn blaze into Thursday.

Flare-ups and hotspots remained a threat, fueled by the facility’s nearly 4,000 rolls of coated paper and a rubberized roof membrane that carried the fire, Fire Chief Ken Heim said at a news conference.

The building remained “very unstable” throughout the week, with structural beams lying across massive paper rolls and cores of tightly wrapped coated paper smoldering, Heim said.

“The challenge you have with a paper roll is they’re wound so tight,” said Heim. “And as the first layer burns off, it ignites. ... It’s very challenging to put out.”

Hotspots

Each paper roll weighs hundreds of pounds, and authorities were working with a structural engineer on how to remove the material from the warehouse, so firefighters could attack the fire from inside the plant, city officials said.

Firefighters tried unsuccessfully to get into the facility through the roof, Heim said, and news footage showed fire crews dousing the blaze from cherry pickers.

Heim said his team was considering filling Dumpsters with water and immersing each roll of paper from the facility, to knock down any remaining hidden hot spots.

By Wednesday, the fire was 99 percent contained, but fire crews remained into Thursday, tamping down the last hot spots.

“We have a massive challenge ahead of us,” Heim said.

Struggling Employer

Firefighting is not the only challenge. The 105-year-old plant—older than the town itself—laid off 175 workers in December, sparing about 250 for a sharply reduced operation in the town of 16,000.

“They were our second-largest employer,” Sartell City Manager Patti Gartland told Minnesota Public Radio. “They were and continue to be our largest tax-paying property owner. So they have a very significant economic, social and cultural role in our community.”

Gov. Mark Dayton visited the site on Tuesday and pledged his support for the company,

But neither he, nor the generations who have worked for the plant, nor the company itself know what is ahead.

Said Archambeau: “We don’t have a plan beyond today.”

   

Tagged categories: Explosions; Health and safety

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

Clemco Industries Corp.
Powerful Protection in a Small Package

Mounts inside blast helmet, alerts operator to dangerous breathing-air condition by audible, visual, and vibratory alarms. Easily calibrated, battery operated.


ABKaelin, LLC
Quality is our bottom line

Services include:
• Environmental, Health &
  Safety
• Contractor QP Certification
• Quality Assurance Programs
  and Auditing
• SSPC C3/C5 and other
  Training
• Coatings
• Design/Construction
See our website at abkaelin.com or contact us today abkaelin@comcast.com


Bullard

The Next Generation
of Blasting

• Lightest
• Coolest
• Most Comfortable
• Most Dependable


PaintSquare
SSPC 2014 Product Demos

Watch product demos by SSPC 2014 exhibitors. Check them out now!


Blastox/The TDJ Group, Inc.
Blastox - One Step
Lead Abatement

Don't waste $$ on added labor steps with other methods. Don't mix, meter or apply at the job-site. Avoid strict hazardous waste rules.
Let your painters paint!


Novatek Corporation
Dustless Coatings Removal

Strip it, clean it, and profile it,
all dust free! High production
rates and Blast like finishes.
Comply with new lead
standards.


CS Unitec
Surface Prep & Material Removal

CS Unitec’s Floor Planers remove coatings & corrosion from concrete & metal surfaces. Produce keyed profiles for waterproofing applications. info@csunitec.com

 
 
 
Technology Publishing

The Technology Publishing Network

The Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings (JPCL) PaintSquare
Durability + Design Paint BidTracker JPCL Europe

 
EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About PaintSquare.com   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us
 

© Copyright 2000-2014, Technology Publishing / PaintSquare, All rights reserved
2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951; Tel 1-412-431-8300; Fax 1-412-431-5428; E-mail webmaster@paintsquare.com