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Investigation continues into fatal Elk Co. blast

By: WJAC Web Staff

ST. MARYS, Pa. -- Federal investigators have returned to the scene of a fatal explosion at a manufacturing facility in Elk County.

Officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Friday that an investigator had returned to Mersen USA in St. Marys following Thursday's explosion, which killed one employee and injured two others.

The OSHA official said new information about the investigation was not immediately available.

Investigators, the company and the Elk County coroner have not released the name of the employee who was killed, or the names of the two injured. A Mersen spokesperson offered no additional comment or information.

6 News confirmed through a family member that Neil Carter was one of the injured employees and that he suffered serious injuries in the explosion. He was being treated at UPMC Altoona. Company officials said the other injured employee was released from Elk Regional Medical Center Thursday.

Carter's daughter, Christy Gibbons, said the blast broke bones in her father's face and left him with a 6-inch wound in his head, among other injuries.

The explosion, which company officials referred to as an "equipment related accident," was reported about 9 a.m. at the facility on Trout Run Road.

The plant manufactures carbon and graphite products.

6 News previously reported that in April 2012, Michael Zwald, 39, of Ridgway, was killed in a work-related accident at the Mersen plant.

The Bradford Era newspaper reported Friday that Zwald died after impaling himself on a forklift at the facility while he was stacking storage bins.

OSHA cited Mersen in October of 2012 for that incident, but no penalties were imposed, the paper said.

The Environmental Protection Agency also cited Mersen for violations of federal toxic chemical reporting, the paper said. The company paid $79,000 for those violations.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times