The American Steel Foundries Plant in Granite City, Illinois experienced a blast this morning, injuring at least 10 people with three listed in critical condition. The explosion took place in the cleaning and finishing department where workers were operating a grinding machine. According to the Granite City Fire Department, apparently a gas caught fire near the grinding machine creating a flash explosion but no fire. The cause is still being investigated.
That area of the foundry produces railcar undercarriage components. Seven workers were taken to Gateway Regional Medical Center for treatment of smoke inhalation and were later released. Three others were flown by helicopter to other hospitals. Reportedly, one of the critically injured suffered burns with the others possibly suffering inhalation burns. According to a report in the Belleville News Democrat, a worker at the plant and president of the United Steelworkers Local 1063, told the paper that at least two of those injured may have suffered broken legs and internal injuries. He said he believed the blast was caused by a gas leak.
“I could see flames, initially, and then the visibility went down to zero from the dust that fell from the rafters,” said the worker.
The OSHA office in Fairview Heights has dispatched an inspector to begin its investigation. The agency has six months to complete its investigation.
Clearly there are many people hoping and praying tonight that the workers make a full recovery.