Dundalk man dies after fall into acid at Sparrows Point

June 25, 1992|By Alan Craver | Alan Craver,Staff Writer

A Dundalk man died yesterday of chemical burns he received when he fell into a tank filled with an acid-based solution at the Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point plant Monday, the company said.

Robert Watson Jr., 38, died at Francis Scott Key Medical Center at 10 a.m., a hospital spokesman said. Mr. Watson, a carpenter, had worked at Bethlehem Steel for 18 years.

He fell into a floor-level sump at the No. 4 pickle line in the plant's cold-sheet mill after a wooden covering, which he was replacing, gave way about 6:30 p.m. Monday, the company said.

The solution in the tank is used to clean sheet steel, the company said.

Mr. Watson fell into a solution that contained at least 30 percentpure sulfuric acid and was heated to about 140 degrees, said a longtime Bethlehem Steel ironworker, who asked not to be identified.

The acid in the tank was about 6 feet deep, the ironworker said. "The man went under, completely under," he said. "It's a damn shame that something like this happened."

Bethlehem Steel said two co-workers removed Mr. Watson from the tank and administered first aid until paramedics arrived. The hospital spokesman declined to reveal the extent of Mr. Watson's injuries.

In a press release, the company said that an investigation of the accident is continuing.

The ironworker said representatives from the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected the Bethlehem Steel plant yesterday.

Administration officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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