Chemical explosion at University of Minnesota injures two

(Reported by Mary Jane Smetanka, in the Star Tribune on Sept 11, 2002)

An explosion that injured two graduate students at the University of Minnesota on Tuesday sent water from a damaged sprinkler cascading through classrooms. The building, Amundson Hall, was evacuated and closed after the accident occurred about 10 a.m. in a chemical engineering lab.

Amundson Hall houses the UM's Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.   The blast was contained by the fume hood, but the fire set off the sprinkler system in the laboratory's ceiling. Water poured through the building for about an hour and nine classrooms were affected. The area was blocked by fire trucks and ambulances for about an hour.

The injured doctoral students were working with a small beaker of tetrahydrofuran.   Both students walked to the campus health center but one suffered "significant" chemical burns. He was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in downtown Minneapolis, where he was in satisfactory condition Tuesday afternoon. The other student  was treated and released by the campus health center.

 

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Tetrahydrofuran is a colorless liquid which is highly flammable and can produce explosive peroxides. A dated label and specific time requirements for disposal are required. (see NMSU Policy on Peroxides)

 

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