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Essar steam explosion shakes the Sault awake

Thursday, January 03, 2013   by: Donna Hopper

Were you shaken awake last night? readers report hearing what sounded like an explosion resonating from the area of Essar Steel Algoma at approximately 1:20 a.m. this morning.

"Sounded like someone threw a rock at my window," one reader stated.

We contacted Btrenda Stenta, manager of corporate communications for Essar Steel Algoma, to find out if an incident had occurred at the west end facility.

"I can confirm that early this morning we were disposing of surplus iron at our Transwest facility when a steam explosion occurred," she responded. "This would explain the loud noise that you heard; our apologies for the disruption."

"No one was injured and there was no impact to operations," Stenta explained. "We are currently looking into the cause of the explosion and the necessary corrective actions will be taken to prevent a recurrence."

Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Newsjunkie 1/3/2013 10:40:05 AM Report

It's good to know that I wasn't losing my mind. I live pretty close to the plant & It shook my whole house. I actually thought a vehicle had driven into it! My 7 year old woke up terrified and it took 30 minutes to settle him down...
Right Winger 1/3/2013 10:44:10 AM Report

I thought one of our kids fell out of bed, and I live by the hospital!
opinionated 1/3/2013 10:46:26 AM Report

I didn't hear a thing, live off conmee and went to bed right around that time.

Before people start complaining - they dump the surplus iron on the ground. Not much can be done when it is snowing and raining. They make sure to grade the dumping area as best as they can to direct the water away but only so much can be done.

As crazy as it sounds these are a normal occurrence (maybe on a smaller scale), and all workers are aware of the risks and take appropriate precautions.

Just one of the downsides to living next to the plant.
Golden Girl 1/3/2013 10:46:39 AM Report

What did this do for our air quality, makes me wonder, surplus iron, steam explosion.
JROC 1/3/2013 10:49:56 AM Report

Air quality? Its steam... You should be more concerned with the sault's water quality.
Sam C 1/3/2013 10:51:47 AM Report

Golden Girl... it was a "steam explosion." Hot molten iron was dumped and contacted with water. The only air quality issues should be some rust, and maybe some graphite carried on the steam.

This happens rather frequently, but it always seems to surprise everyone.
Guenther_Of_The_Apes 1/3/2013 10:55:14 AM Report

Missed opportunity - Too bad this didn't happen 1:20am on December 21st!
Tommy2Toes 1/3/2013 11:16:18 AM Report

GoldenGirl...relax. This had less impact on the air quality then say...driving a car or truck. Actually....quite a lot less of an impact. Do you complain every time someone or yourself drives down your street about the air quality?
clumsybird 1/3/2013 11:22:04 AM Report

Did not hear anything in Echo BAY?
BettyW 1/3/2013 11:24:43 AM Report

We live right next door to the plant, west of Goulais Avenue. 4 people & a dog live here, 3 of us and the dog were sleeping heard or felt nothing , felt nothing. The one person awake heard it and said the house shook. She asked me this morning if I had heard or felt it. Which is strange because I'm usually the one that hears those things, like when number 7 blew up.
catlady1 1/3/2013 11:28:28 AM Report

Yes, A load noise woke me up. I was not sure what I heard.
Newsjunkie 1/3/2013 11:30:39 AM Report

I've lived next to the plant for 30+ years. A regular occurrence? Sure... but only in the last couple of years, coincidentally since Essar took over. If it happened before it certainly wasn't on a scale that would shake houses on a regular basis!
fondofanimals 1/3/2013 11:41:58 AM Report

I awoke thinking someone had broke a window in our home, off Third Line East. Check every window but they were fine, so I figured something had happened at Essar & waited untill this morning to find out.
kamen 1/3/2013 12:53:31 PM Report

Maybe they could hold off on dumping the iron until at least 9am? Instead of scaring the shit out of kids and having the rest of the city wondering what the hell is happening when they wake up at 1:30am to a loud explosion sound...It's one thing to hear it during the day we're usually like oh there goes the steel plant again, but when you are woken up by a sound like that and your house shhaking, it's quite disorienting...
Tom_Bom 1/3/2013 1:26:22 PM Report

Essar Steel explosion? Seems to be a nightly occurance, lol.

But yeah, it's good to know I wasn't alone in that. I suspected it was Essar though.

It's sorta funny how they just sorta give a half hearted apology. It's like, "dude, totally sorry for shaking the city and blowing your ear drums out". :P
Jchevs 1/3/2013 1:27:22 PM Report

Well I live in the west end. I just got home and was walking to my door when the whole sky lit up orange. My immediate reaction is always to look at the steel plant and there was a huge fire ball. What a site to see I tell you.

It's funny actually. Every time there is a loud noise, I run to look at the steel plant. Living so close to the steel plant, you kind of have to know.
chronisch 1/3/2013 1:50:59 PM Report

I think the Sault residents should do a class-action suit against Essar. It's a frequent occurrence for the nightly booms. What about those who have children who wake up terrified? What about those who have to work early in the morning but can't get back to sleep because of someone not thinking of others? I think we should be compensated.
It was almost never like this when it was Algoma Steel
Tommy2Toes 1/3/2013 1:59:08 PM Report

@chronisch....are you serious? Can't be...nooo? Really????
steelcity705 1/3/2013 2:11:47 PM Report

haha class action suit....... Good one!
Mr E 1/3/2013 2:15:57 PM Report

Class action... the lazy way of the world.
Ricatoni 1/3/2013 2:19:25 PM Report

yea sue em thats the answer........LOL......
Kasper 1/3/2013 2:30:37 PM Report

"prevent a reccurance"??? isnt this the 3rd or 4th time it's happened this last year??? think of a new excuse...whats really going on there? maybe the new owners should slow things down and not try and quadruple production in the middle of the night where no one can see all the extra pollution they create
22hoofer22 1/3/2013 2:44:29 PM Report

Sometimes I wonder what some people actually think goes on in the steel plant. They don't bake bread, they make steel. For your cars, appliances, buildings, etc....It is a volatile process. It runs 24-7 to provide for this community thru wages for employees, contractors, and bussinesses that provide supplies and services to them. Sorry they broke your sleep!
steelcity705 1/3/2013 2:49:16 PM Report

Well said 22hoofer it is entertaining reading everyone's responses thou isn't it.
Cranny 1/3/2013 3:02:48 PM Report

All you people that think you know what your talking about, don't have a clue!! This is part of the steel making process, and part of living in a city that has a steel plant.. They can't just put off making steel till morning. This wasn't done purposely, rather because it was snowing so hard when they dumped the iron. Theres only so many ladles (big pots), that they can't wait till morning to dump them, or the place would go down! So to the guy thats wants compensation for the blasts, that was a stupid thing to say. Especially when this place is the back bone of the city. Without the plant this city is nothing. It affects everyone of your jobs in some way. If you don't understand what is happening then don't comment!!! They take all the percautions necessary to avoid these loud explosions, especially at night. It's hard to control these when its snowing so hard! So don't predict what you think happened when you don't have a clue!!
Joe B 1/3/2013 3:11:51 PM Report

According to the OHSA Industrial Regs. Section 87.2(1) Every employer shall develop and implement measures and procedures to prevent molten material from comming into contact with damp, rustly or cold surfaces, moisture or water, or other substances.

Sounds like a violation of the OHSA to me! Call the MOL!
nitrocircus199 1/3/2013 3:20:21 PM Report

If u don't like it , move out of the city lol ... It only employs probably almost half of our cities population.
Piaz 1/3/2013 3:46:23 PM Report

It was 1:40 to be exact.The picture window in my living room flexed,I thought it was going to break.I live on the hill in the north end.
SaultJammer 1/3/2013 4:16:17 PM Report

To kamen; as 'Cranny' commented, they have only so many ladles and if they were to 'wait' until 9 am the molten metal would partially solidify and would then not be removable from 'that' ladle. It would become in essence, a useless container and then would have to be either buried (which is definitely not good for the environment) or cut up for scrap which would consume a very large amount of uneccessary time as well as resources such as the gas (again, polluting the environment) or cutting electrodes used to cut thicker metal. So, you should really think before posting. Please don't comment about something you have no idea about... you just make yourself appear uneducated or worse...
plucky 1/3/2013 4:26:26 PM Report

Agreed saultjammer!!! and as for suing the plant get over it people!! this place is you life line to keeping this city running! and as for this little steam explosion it happens, and has for many years. Very tough to see frozen ground when dumping surplus iron! I am sure everyone has seen the red glow at night over the west end over the years! Thats what it is. If people in the Soo have nothing to bitch about they aren't happy!
RLE 1/3/2013 5:37:10 PM Report

We should all meet at the Rosie at 2:00 pm an the 23rd and those that are still able to after several hours of planning should march to David O's office and demand that he shut down the plant for making a noise once in awhile. Then when the jobs have gone down the same trail as St Mary's paper jobs we could really have something to bitch about
dianemarie19 1/3/2013 5:52:34 PM Report

i was sitting on webcam with my bf when it went and it made me jump. i thought something fell off the shelf in my bathtub and after i got off the webcam i realized that it was to muffled to have been in my bathroom since my bathroom is next door to my bedroom my friend said she heard it was from algoma steel so i knew then that it couldnt of been anything in my house lol
iamtc 1/3/2013 6:41:31 PM Report

one of these days that place will blow up its old and outdated hopefully it will close down before that happens they should tear that place down and build a water park
jojo12345 1/5/2013 2:10:57 AM Report

getting west since those new owner are there
not getting better and more and more cancer cause around the west end
way to go Essar
jojo12345 1/5/2013 2:23:48 AM Report

all that plan bring is pollution nothing more
if that place stay open before it blow it will be a miracle
they wont keep that business running if they do it will be their own peoples who will work there none from the Sault
stiJJy 1/6/2013 11:00:13 AM Report

Good story dianemarie, and jojo, you are so wise.
jojo12345 1/14/2013 12:27:32 AM Report

not wise but need to see the reality it will happen
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