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Two October incidents at Fredericton school not related, says fire inspector

Photo by the Brunswickan

FREDERICTON, N.B. (CUP) — Two explosions on the University of New Brunswick (UNB) campus this term have resulted in the disposal of dated chemicals and the implementation of new lab safety training.

The Fredericton Fire Department, WorkSafeNB, and the UNB Health and Safety Office have investigated the explosions.

“Steps and policies to prevent recurrence of these or similar events are being put in place with input from the Fredericton Fire Department and WorkSafeNB,” said Natasha Ashfield, communications officer at UNB.

Fredericton fire inspector Cameron Dunn said UNB has taken all the right precautions following the incidents.

“Working with UNB, they are very proactive … I know they feel bad when stuff like this happens, so they are very capable of reacting to this and making things better,” he said.

UNB’s Environment, Health and Safety Office is still conducting investigations and did not comment.

Both explosions occurred in October. The first one, on Oct. 6, was an accidental chemical explosion in a research lab of the Enterprise One building. Two people were injured, one of whom is still recovering.

The second one took place in Toole Hall on Oct. 30. According to Dunn, it began as a small fire that resulted in a vapour explosion. One person was injured.

“It was all done under a hood and any of the damage was all kept to the lower arms of the person and inside the hood system, so they were doing the right things. They just had a failure,” Dunn said.

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Although it is uncommon for such incidents to occur, Dunn said they were not in any way related, despite the fact that they happened within weeks of each other.

“While it is not common for these types of incidents to take place during any term, two this close together appears to be an aberration and does not appear to be indicative of a trend,” said Ashfield.

Dunn added that the nature of lab work means that incidents like explosions are to be expected.

“There’s inherent danger in a lab. There’s always the chance that something could go wrong and the university recognizes that so they put a lot of little safety things in all the way through everything you’re doing,” he said.

The new safety training will add to the training the lab workers have already received.

“They did everything right. They just needed a little more direction on what to do next time if it happens,” Dunn said.