Cause of tragic explosion being probed
By Joyce Kryszak
Buffalo, NY – The two victims involved in Tuesday's explosion at the Dupont chemical plant have been identified. Richard Folaron of South Wales was killed in the blast. William Freeburg of Angola was seriously injured.
57-year-old Folaron leaves behind a wife, three daughters and a son. He had been with Mollenburg-Betz for 15 years. 50-year old Freeburg, his co-worker and friend, has been with the company for 25 years. He remains at the Erie County Medical Center with face and neck burns, but is expected to fully recover.
James Camarre is vice president for Mollenburg-Betz. The close-knit company of about 150 workers that employed the two men. Fighting back emotion, Camarre said they had no reason to believe the two men would not be safe when they went to the Dupont work site on Tuesday.
"We believe we do have an exemplary safety program. We work hand in hand with OSHA as part of their voluntary protection program," said Camarre. "We do what we can to make sure our employees go home the same way they come in in thje morning - injury free. Unfortunately, yesterday [Tuesday] didn't work out that way."
Camarre said both men were highly qualified welders with 15 and 25 years of experience, respectively. He said the company has never had a fatality or serious accident in its 100-year history.
The men were welding supports to a tank that had been taken out of service and emptied. Dupont spokesman Terry Gooding said they have shut down the area where the explosion happened. Gooding said experts on site are trying to figure out what went wrong.
"This situation deeply saddens all of our Dupont family. This is really tragic, unfortunate situation," said Gooding. "We're going to do what we can to try to determine what caused the suituation and prevent it from ever happening again."
Investigators from Dupont, OSHA and others are trying to determine whether or not there were any traces left in the tank of the highly flammable chemical, polyvinyl fluoride.