Industrial park blast kills man
POSTED: Wednesday, October 08, 2008
An explosion at Campbell Industrial Park yesterday killed a 23-year-old man and left three others injured.
It happened just before 1:30 Tuesday afternoon at PSC Phillips Services on Komohana Street Campbell Industrial Park.
Police said the man had been welding a 9,500-gallon storage tank holding used industrial oil when it blew. He was identified this morning by the medical examiner's office as Sean Miguel Norva of Waipahu.
The blast apparently threw Norva about 100 feet from the tank at Philip Services Hawaii over to the adjacent property, where he landed on a truck bed's side panel, leaving a deep dent.
"I heard a big boom and then the sirens," said Vince Nihipali, owner of V&C Drywall. "My shop is only right next door. It's scary."
Norva worked for Panco, a subcontractor of Philip Services, located at Komohana and Kauhi streets.
He suffered extreme multisystem trauma consistent with an explosion and was pronounced dead at the scene, said Bryan Cheplic, spokesman for the city Department of Emergency Services. Three other men suffered minor injuries and were taken in stable condition to the hospital, he said.
One worked for Panco; another worked for American International Industrial Installations, another Philip contractor; and a third worked for Bonded, a concrete manufacturing company next door.
"It's been a terrible day," said Ray Luavasa, Philip Services' health and safety manager.
The tank itself, blackened by the oil, apparently hopped a concrete wall and lay crumpled about 30 feet from where it originally sat. Black oil spattered over a large area, including other tanks at Philip Services and on Bonded's property. Philip Services recycles used motor and transmission oil.
Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Terry Seelig said the explosion did not cause a fire and the oil has a high flash point, meaning that it would require high heat for it to catch fire.
HFD investigators were looking for a source of ignition. Nihipali said he knew Philip Services stored waste oil, but took for granted it was safe and now questions how much is stored on the property.
"This is dangerous stuff," he said.
"Imagine if one of the tanks went blow. Right here is Tesoro. That's the storage tanks," he said, pointing to the enormous tanks.
"Welding one place where you get all these hazardous materials, all this gas and oil. Whoever made that decision?" he said. "A lot of people work around this place."
Luavasa said he couldn't discuss the specifics of the accident because it remains under investigation.
He also would not say how much oil is stored on site at the 91-410 Komohana St. site, where the company's treatment plant is located and where five to six employees work. The company has another site at 91-127 Malakole St.
It appeared six remaining tanks stood on the site, which he said contain used oil and water. The company takes used oil from vessels and underground storage tanks and processes it to create fuel for trains and other vehicles.
The Department of Labor's Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division is also investigating the accident.