No injuries during explosion at GTP
An explosion reported at the North Towanda Global Tungsten & Powders Corp. plant resulted in no injuries Friday, according to GTP Environmental Manager Carmen Venezia.
The cause of the blast, which occurred in a furnace, is not yet known, Venezia said.
"There's no way to know right now (what caused the explosion), but we will conduct an investigation," he explained.
There were a couple employees near the furnace when it blew up, all of whom were evaluated by a nurse employed by GTP and found to be not injured, Venezia said.
He said the incident occurred in "building 26" of the plant, which employs about 1000 people and consists of over 40 buildings.
Venezia spoke only briefly about damage to the building or equipment, saying it would need to be evaluated, but said the "extent of the damage doesn't look that bad," with only some minor pipe damage visible.
North Towanda Fire Chief Terry Sheets said most of the emergency operation was handled by GTP's fire and emergency brigade, but from his point of view he saw damage to ceiling tiles and light fixtures inside building 26 and noticed most all of the doors in the building sustained damage.
Some North Towanda firefighters did assist the GTP fire brigade inside the plant, Sheets said.
Sheets said GTP also handled evacuation procedures internally, with employees reporting to designated muster stations to be accounted for. Sheets said the workers were then initially moved away from the area of the explosion, but after an evaluation, most returned to their work stations. As for operations in building 26, Sheets said employees will likely not be working in the building until maintenance crews repair damage.
A security guard at the plant said the explosion occurred at approximately 6:40 p.m.
By 7:45 p.m., all fire departments that had responded to the incident had left the scene, which included North Towanda Fire Department, Towanda Fire Department, Wysox Volunteer Fire Company, Ulster Sheshequin Fire Association and Athens Borough Fire Department. Additionally, Troy Fire Department was stationed to cover other calls in the Towanda area.
Tim Zyla can be reached at (570) 265-1634; email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Twitter, @TimZyla.