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Thursday, January 19, 2017
Full Text: UH Sued over Biofuel Lab Explosion
By Selected News Articles @ 10:42 PM :: 1984 Views :: Energy, Higher Education

Civil suit filed against University of Hawaii for lab explosion

Injured researcher Thea Ekins-Coward and her spouse allege negligence and emotional distress

by Jyllian Kemsley, Chemical and Engineering News, January 19, 2017

An injured postdoctoral researcher and her spouse have filed a civil suit against the University of Hawaii (UH) and others involved for a 2016 explosion in which the researcher lost one of her arms.

At the time of the incident, postdoc Thea Ekins-Coward was preparing a gas mixture of 55% hydrogen, 38% oxygen, and 7% carbon dioxide to feed to bacteria to produce biofuels, according to a report issued by the University of California Center for Laboratory Safety (UCCLS). The center was hired by UH to investigate the incident.

The gases were combined in an ungrounded 49-L steel tank designed for compressed air, not for hazardous gases. UCCLS concluded that a static discharge most likely caused the explosion.

Ekins-Coward lost her right lower arm and elbow and suffered corneal abrasions, facial burns, and loss of high frequency hearing from nerve damage to her ears, according to a civil complaint filed with a Hawaii court on Jan. 9.

Ekins-Coward worked for the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute. The defendants named in the suit are UH; Jian Yu, the principal investigator of the lab in which Ekins-Coward worked; and Richard E. Rocheleau, director of the institute….

read … News Report

PDF: Lawsuit Text

 

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