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Chemical Reaction Investigated in Fatal Blast

Barbour County
David Benbennick
wikimedia commons

The lead federal investigator examining the explosion that killed two men at a West Virginia industrial plant May 24 says they're still testing and gathering evidence to determine the what caused the approximately 100-gallon tank to blow apart.

Mark Wingard with the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board says Friday that one possible scenario is some type for chemical reaction that violently caused an increase in pressure or heat or both.

Midland Resource Recovery outside Philippi was decommissioning the tank that contained residual mercaptan, the chemical that gives a strong odor to natural gas, when it exploded into multiple pieces.

The federal office of Occupational Safety and Health Administration said owner Jan Strmen and employee Justin Marsh were killed decommissioning the tank. Another worker was seriously injured.

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