Explosion kills 1, injures 9 at New Jersey metal casting plant

16 01 2008

CARLSTADT, N.J. (AP) — An explosion at a metal casting plant about a mile from Giants Stadium killed one person and injured nine others, three critically.

The accident occurred Tuesday morning at Tec-Cast, an aluminum casting company located in a pocket of industrial plants and warehouses about a mile north of the Meadowlands sports complex. Workers were performing maintenance on an air pressure vat used to cast molten metals into machine parts, police said.

Workers were fixing a door on the approximately 4-foot wide vat shortly after 8 a.m. when it exploded because of air pressure that had built up in the back, said Capt. Franklin Smith of the Carlstadt Police Department.The explosion was heard — and felt — in neighboring buildings along the 300-yard-long cul de sac.

“I heard the explosion,” said Juan Muniz, who was working in an adjacent building about 20 yards away from the Tec-Cast building. “My whole building was shaking. It was scary.”

Mario Gomez, 61, of Jersey City, a maintenance supervisor at the facility, was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Gomez was killed when the vat exploded, blowing off the door and scattering pieces of metal that struck him and the other workers.

Seven of the injured workers were taken to area hospitals. It was not clear if the other two declined treatment.

Three of the injured workers were in critical condition at Hackensack University Medical Center Tuesday afternoon, according to hospital spokeswoman Peggy Schunk. Two others remained at the hospital and were in good condition, Schunk said. She did not give specific details on their injuries, citing hospital policy.

Two injured workers were treated and released from Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, according to hospital spokesman Craig Schmalz. Their injuries ranged from scrapes and bruises to knee and ankle injuries.

Tec-Cast officials did not respond to telephone requests for comment, and workers and company officials left the building without commenting to reporters.

A woman who answered the phone said she was in another building and did not know what was happening.

About 45 employees were in the building at the time of the explosion, Smith said.

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