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Seafood plant explosion likely an accident, investigators say

October 14th, 2016 | Alaska Dispatch News Print this article   Email this article  

An industrial accident was the apparent cause of the fish-meal dust explosion that caused more than $100,000 in damage at a Dutch Harbor seafood plant last month, according to local authorities.

Public radio station KUCB reported Thursday that Unalaska Department of Public Safety officials said a possible point of ignition for the Sept. 19 detonation, which rocked the Westward Seafoods facility on Captains Bay Road, was a saltwater pipe which burst shortly before the blast. Investigators said friction from the bursting pipe may have ignited volatile dust in the area left over from processing fish meal.

Westward officials said last month that employees were in the facility when the explosion occurred, but nobody was injured. Unalaska DPS Director Mike Holman said further damage was done when sprinklers activated by the explosion drenched much of the plant's electrical equipment. No foul play was suspected in the explosion.

The plant remains closed for repairs, according to KUCB, but Westward hopes to have it back online to process pollock in January.


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