2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 8 Aug 2003 16:59:24 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Building destroyed in S.J. explosion
Note: This remote site already contains a major groundwater plume of
perchlorate that is migrating toward Santa Clara Valley drinking water
Building destroyed in S.J. explosion
By Linda Goldston, Frank Sweeney and Josh Susong
Posted on Fri, Aug. 08, 2003

A powerful explosion destroyed at least one building and ignited a
37-acre brush fire Thursday evening at United Technologies Corp., whose
sprawling foothills complex off Metcalf Road has been the site of three
other big blasts in the past 30 years.

There were no major injuries, although one employee complained of a
problem with his ears. About 60 firefighters, including those from the
company's fire department, were on hand shortly after the 6 p.m.
explosion at the South San Jose complex.

Bea Asher, who lives on Metcalf Road, said she was half-asleep when the
blast occurred and ``at first I thought it was an earthquake.''

The boom -- and a slight shake of the house -- was followed by a plume
of white smoke mixed with black, she said. ``You had to really look to
see where the grass fire was. It was more smoke than anything else.''

United Technologies' Pratt & Whitney Space Propulsion Chemical Systems
Division has manufactured and repaired solid-fuel rocket motors since
1959 at the 5,113-acre site, east of San Jose's Coyote Valley. The
facility, which employed 770 people last year, is surrounded by ranch
land, regional park property and open public land, with the nearest
ranch houses more than a half-mile from the property's boundaries.

The brush fire caused by the blast was brought under control by 8:30
p.m., said Ed Schell, assistant information officer with the California
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

``The excitement's all over, but the investigation will be ongoing,''
Schell said. ``We had very good cooperation from allied agencies,
including the San Jose Fire Department. The company's internal
industrial fire department for UTC were the heroes of the bunch.''

``It's a terribly unfortunate incident, but we prepare for these
things,'' said Webb Harwell, manager of business development for the
company. He was about three miles away in another building when the
explosion occurred.

The cause of the blast has not been determined. The explosion occurred
during a routine mixing operation of rocket fuel propellant used for
space shuttles and missiles, said Julie Anderson, spokeswoman for Pratt
& Whitney.

This article can be viewed at:

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