Volume 13, Number 17 May 5, 2006

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Spinks explosion injures two

A campus security officer and a Saskatoon firefighter examine the damage from an April 24 explosion in a Spinks chemistry lab. The ceiling sustained the most damage.

A campus security officer and a Saskatoon firefighter examine the damage from an April 24 explosion in a Spinks chemistry lab.  The ceiling sustained the most damage.    

Photo courtesy DHSE.

An explosion in a chemistry lab in the Spinks building April 24 caused a flash fire that sent two male graduate students to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.  Both had been released from hospital as of May 2.

Stephen Kranz, chemical safety manager with the Department of Health, Safety and Environment (DHSE), said the accident occurred just before noon, and is believed to have been caused by the over-pressurization of a three-litre glass bulb containing tetrahydrofuran or THF, an organic solvent.  The students were carrying out what he described as a “very routine” procedure.

Students and staff in the vicinity of the explosion responded quickly, Kranz said, helping the injured people into emergency showers and ensuring a residual fire was extinguished.  Campus emergency teams at the scene summoned both Saskatoon fire and ambulance services to deal with the incident.

Kranz, who is heading the accident investigation, said the explosion caused damaged to ceiling tiles in the lab and to the fume hood that was being used at the time.  The cost of the damage was estimated at $10,000.  The second floor of the building was evacuated at the time but surrounding labs have since reopened, he said.

The investigation will include interviewing the two students involved, he said, as well as looking at all possible causes – procedural, mechanical and human error.  A final report on the incident is expected by the end of May.


For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca


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