Oxygen cylinder explodes during compacting by trash truck; two injured

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An oxygen cylinder placed in the trash injured two Wilmington refuse workers, one seriously

Workers were collecting trash on Vandever Avenue, just a block off of North Market Street in the city.

The Fire Department’s preliminary investigation indicates that a pressurized oxygen tank cylinder was placed in the trash and was then loaded into the sanitation collection vehicle shortly before 8 a.m. on Thursday.

As workers were compacting the trash, as they do every few minutes along their route, the tank exploded sending shrapnel flying from the rear of the truck.

A 40-year old sanitation worker suffered a serious chest wound from shrapnel and is being treated at Christiana Hospital in Stanton after being picked up by helicopter. He is in stable condition.

Another member of the hit his head when he was blown onto a nearby sidewalk by the force of the explosion. He was treated at Wilmington Hospital and released.

“We extend our best wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured employees and their families,” said Mayor Mike Purzycki. “Kelly, Mike and I also want to thank the less seriously injured worker, who provided immediate medical attention to his more seriously injured colleague as did the crew’s driver. Both of them are to be commended for aiding their colleague in those critical moments until the Fire Department’s emergency personnel arrived.” The City’s Human Resources Department will offer support services for employees who may have been affected by today’s incident.

The city sanitation truck was taken to another location where its contents were emptied in order to determine what caused the explosion. A damaged oxygen tank, as depicted in the photo accompanying this news release, was found.

Purzycki advised residents to be careful about placing items in the trash that could be considered dangerous.

He said the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA.com) sponsors a number of recycling events throughout the year at which items such as oxygen canisters can be dropped off. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) offers information at this link about items that can and cannot be placed in trash bins.

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