Explosion at Arkansas aluminum recycling plant kills 2; company says no chemicals released

Tuesday, October 31st 2006, 8:42 am
By: News On 6

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) _ An explosion at an aluminum recycling plant early Tuesday killed two people and injured a third, a company spokesman said.

The explosion occurred shortly after 3 a.m. in a production area where scrap aluminum is melted down for recycling, said Mike Shaw, human resources and safety director for Arkansas Aluminum Alloys.

There was no fire and no chemical release, but the company shut off power to the plant as a safety precaution, he said.

``We don't know what caused it at this point,'' Shaw said. He said emergency crews were investigating.

Garland County Sheriff's Lt. Rodney Neighbors said he saw damage to the building's sheet metal roof and to conveyor belts and electrical wiring.

He said the employees were working with containers of aluminum on conveyor belts when the accident occurred, but he said it wasn't obvious what exploded or what killed them.

``Due to the damage in the area, we can't tell what was supposed to be doing what,'' Neighbors said.

Residents of the area were not in any danger, Neighbors said. He said local authorities would ask the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate.

The two men killed were identified as John Albert Cobb, 43, and Ethon Allen V. Boyer, 19. The name of the injured worker was not immediately released, but Shaw said the survivor suffered minor injuries and was taken to a local hospital.

According to the company's Web site, Arkansas Aluminum Alloys Inc. uses furnaces and casting equipment to recycle scrap aluminum. The plant, which operates around the clock with about 30 employees, is 55 miles southwest of Little Rock.