Chemical Incident Reports Center
CIRC Results
  Incident Title
Cleanup Continues On Campus After Chemical Explosion; Over $600,000 in damage to Incubator Firms     
Location Date of Incident
Bethlehem, PA, United States 2/25/2000- 8:30 AM
CSB Incident Number NRC Report Number Board Ref. Number
2000-4699 None Reported None Reported
Current Status Date of Report Update
No CSB Action 3/1/2000 - 5:23 PM
Incident Types Location Types
- Explosion
- Fire
Fixed Facility
Evacuations Injuries Fatalities
Yes - Number Unknown None Reported None Reported
Chemicals Involved
- Sodium hypochlorite
Description or Latest Development
Information Added: Wednesday, March 1, 2000 - 5:38 PM
Cleanup is continuing at Lehigh University's Mountaintop Campus as officials of a burned-out computer company scramble to save their business.  

The blast at neighboring company CDG Technologies on Friday caused more than $100,000 in damage to the building and to CDG lab equipment, officials said.

The building housed 10 high-tech start-up businesses.
One of them, Digestive Care, Inc., said the fire and explosion probably cost his company at least $500,000.  The company manufactures an enzyme used as a dietary supplement by children with cystic fibrosis.

The Bethlehem Fire Department says there are no new developments in the investigation into the incident.  

What is known is that the fire broke out in a laboratory used by CDG Technologies around 8:30 a.m. Friday, but don't know exactly what caused it.

According to a fire department report, CSG employee Nick Gallowitch filled a 4-inch PVC tube with sodium chlorite and weh he started to screw a cap onto the tube, fire shot out of the bottom.

Gallowitch told officials he went to get a fire extinguisher, but when he came back, the room was on fire.

Sodium chlorite is stable and will not combust on its own. An organic fuel would need to be added for the chemical to catch fire, according to the report.

Sources ( * indicates the original source) Source Details
  • Media *
Allentown Morning Call 03/01/2000 

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