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Friday, January 04, 2008

Overheated chamber triggered chemical lab blast

From The Florida Times Union
JACKSONVILLE - An overheated chemical chamber caused the T2 Laboratories Inc. explosion that killed four people and rocked a Northside Jacksonville neighborhood last month, a federal investigator said Thursday.

The explosion's force was equivalent to detonating about a ton of TNT, said Robert Hall, lead investigator for the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, an agency investigating the blast. He said debris was thrown as much as a mile.

The blast "was among the most powerful ever examined" by the 10-year-old chemical board, Hall said.

The steel cylindrical chamber standing 14 feet tall was being used to mix chemicals for an ingredient in Ecotane, an octane-boosting gasoline additive that the company made at 3043 Faye Road.

It exploded Dec. 19 in what Hall described as "really an uncontrolled chemical reaction." Agency officials have said a liquid solution of methylcyclopentadiene was being mixed with metallic sodium.

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