Aug. 2004 – Explosion Survivor, Widow Sue Chemical Companies

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August 18, 2004.

Explosion Survivor, Widow Sue Chemical Companies

Anhydrous Ammonia Explosion Kills DeWitt Man

CLINTON, Iowa -- A man who survived an anhydrous ammonia explosion last year and the widow of a DeWitt man who died are suing the companies that supplied and provided training about the chemical and owned the tank that burst.

The April 15, 2003, accident killed Robert Ryan, 68, and seriously burned Nathan Nissen, 24, of Welton, at a farm cooperative near Clinton when 1,300 gallons of the poisonous and corrosive anhydrous ammonia escaped from the steel tank.

The lawsuit blames the companies for failing to warn users about the dangers of the chemical or about periodic inspections and testing of anhydrous ammonia tanks.

The suit also blames the companies for failing to determine whethertheir customers were properly qualified to handle anhydrous ammonia.  National Transportation Safety Board officials said the tank was a non-U.S. Department of Transportation specification cargo tank built in 1976 and made according to requirements of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.