The banks of the Ohio River northwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have had more than their fair share of tragedy this summer. The river towns of Monaca and Sewickley have lost three employees to industrial accidents at local facilities.
Explosion at Horsehead's Zinc Plant
The first was an explosion at the Horsehead Corporation's Monaca zinc plant on July 22, 2010. A leak in the column where the zinc is oxidized by carbon monoxide and natural gas caused an explosion that cost two workers their lives and injured two others.
There have been at least two previous accidents at Horsehead in recent years, one in January 2007 which injured one person, and an earlier incident where an employee stepped in molten zinc that had been left uncovered. The latter resulted in a United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation and citations with penalties up to $186,750.
Gas Leak at the Sewickley Municipal Water Treatment Plant
More recently, a lethal methane gas leak took the life of a new father in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, at the municipal wastewater treatment plant. The leak occurred thirty feet below ground, in a narrow tube difficult for rescue crews to reach.
When the leak was discovered, three employees ran to his rescue, but they were overcome by the gas as well and rushed to a local hospital for treatment. OSHA was called in to investigate the accident.
The Sewickley accident called into question the technology used at that plant and other treatment facilities in the area. The process is over seventy years old, dating back to the 1940s. Explosions in Europe at plants similar to Sewickley have killed eleven workers.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an industrial accident consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to find out if you are entitled to compensation in addition to workers' compensation.