UH brings in safety firm to determine cause of lab explosion

UH brings in safety firm to determine cause of lab explosion

MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawaii has hired a California firm to conduct an independent investigation of a lab explosion in which a researcher lost her arm.

The University of California Center for Laboratory Safety will conduct the investigation to try to determine the cause of the explosion on March 16, and whether anything could have been done to prevent it. A lab safety team was on campus last week, and a final report is expected by the end of the month.

University officials say preliminary indications "are that the accident was an isolated incident and not the result of a systemic problem at Manoa or intentional wrongdoing."

The explosion happened about 6 p.m. in a basement lab at the Pacific Ocean Sciences and Technology Building.

The 29-year post-doctoral fellow, Thea Ekins-Coward, was working with a mixture of low-pressure hydrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen when the explosion happened.

In a memo to faculty on Monday, UH-Manoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman said the "entire Manoa community is keeping her in our thoughts and prayers."

He added, "As we seek answers to how this incident occurred, it is important that we as a community reaffirm our commitment to a culture of safety in each and every research and teaching laboratory on our campus."

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