CSB Investigates Deadly Florida Blast

Dec. 24, 2007
An explosion at a Jacksonville, Fla., chemical plant Dec. 19 killed four employees, injured at least 14 others and prompted the Chemical Safety Hazard and Investigation Board (CSB) to look into the incident.

T2 Laboratories Inc., a manufacturer of gasoline additives and chemical solvents, was engulfed in fire following the afternoon blast. According to media reports, the explosion sent large amounts of debris and smoke into the air and caused an evacuation of all businesses within at least a half-mile radius. The blast also knocked out the power of two generating units at a power plant and ripped the roof from the building of another nearby business.

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue spokesman Tom Francis told the Associated Press and Reuters that chemicals released by the explosion made the environment "incredibly dangerous for the first responders."

The deceased have been identified as Scott Gallagher, Karey Henry, Parish Ashley and Charles Bolchoz. Gallagher was co-owner of the plant. Fourteen other employees were admitted to hospitals for injuries.

“Major, Tragic Accident”

The cause of the explosion has not yet been determined, and the subsequent investigation may take months. A CSB investigation team arrived at the scene Dec. 20 to investigate. Lead Investigator Robert Hall and investigators Johnnie Banks, Francisco Altamirano, Jeffrey Wanko, Mary Nikityn and Lucy Sciallo, as well as CSB board member Gary Visscher, make up the inspection team.

CSB spokesperson Sandy Gilmour told OccupationalHazards.com the investigation team has just begun the inspection and is interviewing managers at the plant. He said the CSB considers the explosion a “major, tragic accident.”

“The Board is committed to find out what happened to make recommendations,” he said.

About the Author

Laura Walter

Laura Walter was formerly senior editor of EHS Today. She is a subject matter expert in EHS compliance and government issues and has covered a variety of topics relating to occupational safety and health. Her writing has earned awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), the Trade Association Business Publications International (TABPI) and APEX Awards for Publication Excellence. Her debut novel, Body of Stars (Dutton) was published in 2021.

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