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Cause of fatal blast in Clairton Plant not found

| Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009, 12:00 p.m.

Federal investigators have not determined a cause — or even entered the site — of an explosion in the Clairton Plant where a contractor for the U.S. Steel Corp. was killed.

"Investigators have still not had access to the area where the explosion occurred," said Robert Syzmanski, regional director of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, on Friday.

Syzmanski said the area has not been ruled safe, but that investigators might be able to enter the blast area this weekend.

The blast occurred late Thursday morning in the byproducts area for the coke batteries, which are arrays of ovens where coal is baked into coke, an ingredient in steel-making.

Contractors from four companies had been working in the area where the blast occurred for at least three weeks, Syzmanski said.

The explosion killed Nicholas Revetta, 32 of Pleasant Hills, who died at Jefferson Regional Hospital. Funeral arrangements for Revetta are incomplete, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office.

Neither U.S. Steel nor the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released the name and condition of a second contractor injured the blast who was taken to UPMC Mercy.

"Safety is our company's top priority, and as such, we have launched an investigation into the incident," said Courtney Boone, a public affairs manager for U.S. Steel. "We are working with the appropriate organizations and agencies including the USW and OSHA in this investigation. Coke production has resumed and the involved facility has been isolated from the system."

Revetta worked for Power Piping Co. of Lawrenceville, which specializes in installing industrial pipes and high-pressure equipment. The company declined to comment.

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