A fatal gas explosion in Durham led to two deaths and over two dozen injuries. The explosion occurred at the Dominion Energy plant. Two additional people who were injured in the explosion remain in the hospital. One firefighter is said to look in “good spirits” after the explosion, but he is not expected to return to work for several months, according to doctors.
Eight other firefighters injured in the explosion are now back to work.
Two restaurants in the area, Torero’s and Saint James Seafood remained closed following the explosion. The two buildings were condemned due to heavy damage. A coffee shop was completely destroyed in the explosion.
The blast has led to less foot traffic for local businesses, and the issue may be even worse now that health officials are assessing the risk of the site to the general public. Health officials have detected asbestos.
First responders, and anyone that was present at the scene, may have been exposed to asbestos fibers that entered the air following the explosion. Officials claim that those exposed to the material are at “minimal risk of lung cancer.” Asbestos fibers enter the lungs and are unable to exit the lungs, resulting in mesothelioma, one of the most aggressive forms of cancer.
Air-quality monitors were quickly put in place while workers attempted to remove debris from the site. Water was sprayed on the rubble in an attempt to minimize the risk of fibers entering the air.
Asbestos-related diseases take 10 to 20 years to develop. The fibers are trapped in the lungs, causing inflammation and scarring.
“Asbestos is highly carcinogenic and is known to cause ovarian cancer, laryngeal cancer, clubbed fingers, asbestosis and lung cancer. It is also the only known cause of mesothelioma, a rare, devastating cancer with no cure,” explains Vogelzang Law.
Few people feel ill following exposure, so those present when the explosion occurred may not know that they inhaled asbestos fibers for another decade or two.
Two companies are under investigation relating to the explosion. PS Splicing LLC, a company that installs underground lines, reported that a gas line had been cut on the morning of the explosion. Optic Cable Technology Inc. is also being investigated. The investigations revolve around the installation of underground lines that may have caused the explosions.
Dominion Energy has been granted a permit to excavate the site. Fire officials delayed the digging without explaining why the delay occurred. The Fire Chief claims that investigators have a good idea of what led to the spark, but the information will not be released under the investigation is completed.