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Two hurt in blast at ATI titanium sponge plant

Keywords: Tags  Allegheny Technologies, ATI, titanium sponge, workers burned, Rowley, Wade Mathews, Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — Two workers are being treated for second-degree burns following an explosion April 2 at Allegheny Technologies Inc.’s titanium sponge plant in Rowley, Utah.

The two men were performing "preventative maintenance" when a filter caught fire, according to an ATI spokesman at the company’s headquarters in Pittsburgh.

Tooele County emergency services received a call at 1:30 p.m., county spokesman Wade Mathews told AMM. He said the first responders to the accident included ATI’s own emergency management team at the plant.

The men were decontaminated with soap and water, as required following an industrial accident involving potentially harmful chemicals, Mathews said. They were then transported via helicopter to the University of Utah’s burns center in Salt Lake City after suffering burns to their faces, arms, hands and upper torsos, he said. The men, who were not named, were reported to be in stable condition.

After an initial safety check following the incident, it was determined that the plant incurred no serious damage, and production at the plant resumed, Mathews said.

ATI reported the incident to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which will be investigating, Mathews said.

It was the second burn incident at Rowley since the plant started up in late 2009. The first was a processing flashback in September 2010, according to the ATI spokesman.

Rowley is the newest U.S. sponge plant, with a capacity of 24 million pounds per year. While ATI has not disclosed its production rate recently, it has said the $460-million plant is already producing industrial and standard aerospace-quality sponge and is working toward qualification to produce sponge for rotating aircraft engine parts.

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