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Explosion limits work at ATI Allegheny Ludlum in Derry

| Friday, July 26, 2013, 1:36 a.m.

Production at the ATI Allegheny Ludlum plant along Route 981 in Derry Township will be limited until repairs are made to a portion of a building damaged in an explosion Wednesday night, a company spokesman said.

No one was injured in the explosion, which occurred when water from wet scrap metal came in contact with hot metal in one of the plant's electric arc furnaces, ATI spokesman Daniel Greenfield said.

Plant safety protocol dictates all workers move away from the furnaces and into a protected area before the furnaces are charged, and evacuation procedures are in place to get workers out of the building in an event such as Wednesday's blast, according to Greenfield.

The roof and one wall of the building, which houses the plant's open-air furnaces, were damaged, Greenfield said.

The furnace was not damaged in the explosion.

Small explosions within the furnace caused by small amounts of moisture, water or ice hitching a ride into the furnace with scrap metal aren't uncommon, but Greenfield said ATI is investigating this explosion to determine how enough water entered the furnace to cause such a large explosion.

Sheet metal was displaced on the roof of the building and “a significant amount” of sheet metal was dislodged from the wall, Greenfield said.

Contractors were on the scene Thursday morning assessing the damage, and repairs are expected to take less than a week, Greenfield said.

The furnaces in that building will be shut down until repairs are finished. The area of the plant housing vacuum furnaces was not damaged, and will remain operational, Greenfield said.

The Westmoreland County Department of Public Safety received a report of the explosion shortly after 9 p.m.

Bradenville firefighters were assisted by units from Derry and Latrobe.

ATI's website states that its Latrobe facility is a specialty melting operation that has an electric arc furnace for the production of a variety of specialty alloys. The plant's melt shop produces many of Allegheny Ludlum and ATI Allvac's specialty and nickel alloys.

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913, or greinbold@tribweb.com.

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