Water plant blast claims contractor’s life

An investigation into the fatal blast at an Irish water treatment plant last week has suggested the explosion was sparked by power tools being used near a build up of gas.

The incident at the Carmoney treatment works took place on the morning of Thursday, June 2 and claimed the life of a 51-year-old builder, Drew Stevenson, while injuring two other men.

It is understood Mr Stevenson was a contractor working on installing a storage tank on the roof of the building in Londonderry when an explosion sent it rocketing over 150ft into the sky.

Eye witnesses described the huge tank as floating up to 200ft in the air, trailing debris, before crashing down onto a nearby hillside.

Mr Stevenson’s seven colleagues were said to be taking a tea break when the huge explosion ripped a 20ft square hole in the metal roof of the plant.

The police and fire service are putting the incident down as an industrial accident and don’t believe there are any suspicious circumstances but unions are raising questions over whether a proper risk assessment was carried out before the work began.

A full health and safety audit was carried out at the plant six months ago and it was given a clean bill of health.

Following the explosion emergency services declared a major incident and closed off the surrounding area urging people to stay indoors while they assessed the risk posed by fumes and chemicals.

The local hospital was put on full alert.

The area was declared safe within half and hour of firefighters arriving on the scene.

The investigation into the cause of the blast is continuing, but the combination of sparks from power tools being used near the tank and the build up of gas is thought to be the prime suspect.

By Sam Bond

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