Coralville Waste Water Treatment Plant Explosion Injures One

By Mark Carlson, Reporter

Coralville Firefighters and engineers from VJ Engineering walk past a sludge covered piece of equipment as they examine the sludge storage facility at the Coralville Wastewater Treatment Plant following an explosion Monday, Dec. 27, 2010 in Coralville. One person was injured in the blast and the cause of the explosion is under investigation. (Brian Ray/ SourceMedia Group News)

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Coralville Explosion

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CORALVILLE, Iowa - A buildup of methane gas may be to blame for an explosion at the Coralville Waste Water Treatment Plant. Police and fire crews responded to 750 22nd Street on a report of an explosion shortly after 11 a.m. Monday.

Coralville fire officials said a man had been working on the roof of the “sludge-holding facility” when the explosion occurred. Assistant Fire Chief Orey Schwitzer said that it appeared a man had been using a small torch to do the work. Schwitzer said it’s possible that the torch got to close to a methane gas build-up, which resulted in the blast.

Some people reported feeling the earth move from as far away as Tipton, Iowa. Employees at the neighboring Gilcrest and Jewett Lumber Company said they heard and felt the ground shake.

“We thought the roof was coming in around our ears,” said Nick Fischer, “We thought the building was collapsing from a snow load or something.”

“I didn’t know if something fell over? Lumber? That’s what it almost seemed like, just a bunch of lumber tipped over,” said Robert Coleman, who was working in the lumberyard at the time of the blast.

Authorities have not released the name or the condition of the injured worker. Fire officials said his injuries were serious, but were not life threatening. He was the only one injured in the explosion.

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