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Fatal Explosions Likely Caused by Chemical Reactions

David Benbennick
Wikimedia commons

Federal officials say two explosions that killed three workers at a West Virginia industrial site earlier this year were likely caused by unintended chemical reactions.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the U.S. Chemical Safety Board said the reactions were caused by "highly reactive or unstable" chemicals that formed in two tanks at Midland Resource Recovery, a Canadian company that odorizes natural gas. Officials did not say what those reactions might have involved.

The explosions happened May 24 and June 20. Those killed included company owner Jan Strmen, 19-year-old Justin Marsh, and 53-year-old contract worker Scott Albertini.

Both explosions happened as workers were attempting to drain tanks that store chemicals used to give natural gas a distinctive odor.

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