Beth Steel iron spill is fatal

April 19, 1994|By Melody Simmons and Ross Hetrick | Melody Simmons and Ross Hetrick,Sun Staff Writers

A 200-ton industrial ladle filled with molten iron spilled today at Bethlehem Steel's Sparrows Point plant, killing one worker and injuring another, the company said.

The accident occurred at 8:03 a.m. -- one hour into the day shift -- in the steel-making area of the plant, said Art Roth, a company spokesman in Bethlehem, Pa.

The spill also caused a single-alarm fire in the building, Baltimore County fire officials said.

Several workers were treated at Sparrows Point for smoke inhalation and minor burns, a company spokesman said.

Names of the dead and injured workers were not immediately available. Ted Baldwin, spokesman for the Sparrows Point plant, said the victim's relatives had not been notified of the accident.

But he said the man who was killed was 55 years old and a 34-year veteran employee at Sparrows Point.

Mr. Baldwin said Bethlehem Steel and the United Steel Workers Union are investigating the accident. The Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Administration also will investigate, he said.

Mr. Roth said the melted iron was in a huge ladle that was suspended on a pulley on its way to a furnace. Once inside the furnace, the melted iron is fired for 45 minutes until it is converted into hardened iron.

Bethlehem's Sparrows Point plant is one of the largest industrial operations in the state, with a 5,800-employee steel-mill work force and 1,200 workers at the adjoining shipyard. It is one of the largest steel mills owned by Bethlehem Steel, the second biggest steel maker in the country.

The last accident at the complex was on Feb. 20 when an electrician presumably fell into the water at the shipyard while installing a temporary light on a pier. The accident was not seen by other workers and his body was not recovered.

Last Oct. 31, a 59-year-old Bethlehem Steel Corp. foreman died after falling 16 feet from a raised concrete pad at the Sparrows Point mill. The victim, Fritz A. Schildt of Edgemere, was checking the motor on a piece of equipment before he fell.

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