Terre Haute, IN Plant Explosion, Sep 1963


Terre Haute, Ind. (AP) -- An awesome boom echoed
in the Wabash Valley once again Tuesday, signaling the 21st death-by-explosion in or near Terre Haute since the first of the year.
The blast at the big, new Central Nitrogen Co. plant
a $20 million complex stretching over 60 acres, killed JOHN SASSO, 55, Clinton, a pipefitting foreman who was testing an air compressor at the fertilizer plant 6 miles north of here.
Two other workers were injured seriously enough to be hospitalized by the exploding five-stage air compressor. E. C. Davis, the plant manager, said the compressor had been undergoing testing for two weeks, with pressure being gradually built up. He said it could not be determined at what pressure the explosion occurred.
Admitted to Union Hospital here, where their condition was described as fair, were KENNETH PECK, 49, Rt. 1, Clinton, and LUKE MARTIN, 42, Rt. 3, Clinton. Seven other workers all employed by Chemical Construction Co., received first aid.
SASSO, PECK and MARTIN were standing next to the compressor tank when a device described by engineers as a "discharge snubber" failed in the fourth stage of the compressing process. The blast, which blew two metal plugs through a steel wall, was heard several miles away.
A discharge snubber is an auxiliary unit designed to handle compression overflow.
Officials of Central Nitrogen, which is a company formed by Farm Bureau corporations of Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio, said damage was confined to the compressing chamber near the center of the complex. There are more than a dozen structures on the property, many of them already in operation.
SASSO'S death came in the sixth major explosion in the area this year, four of which claimed at least one life each.
Central Nitrogen is already producing ammonium nitrate fertilizer on a limited basis and was scheduled to go into full production with a 250-man
work force within a month.
Davis, who declined to estimate damage, said the compressor was one of the "largest in the world."
He said it would be rebuilt.

Logansport Press Indiana 1963-09-18