Cumberland Times-News

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January 9, 2008

Known Cause Of Blast

Methane gas culprit in landfill explosion

VALE SUMMIT - Methane gas that ignited when an electrical device was activated inside one of the pump buildings has been determined as the cause of an explosion Dec. 20 at the Mountainview Landfill on New Georges Creek Road.

Operations Manager George Abucebicz, 54, of Corriganville was injured in the explosion and remains in critical condition at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Burn Center in Baltimore, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office.

Investigation into the explosion revealed that Abucebicz had activated the electrical device, which sparked the explosion.

A flash fire resulted in second- and third-degree burns to Abucebicz's back and legs, face and arms.

The 2:28 p.m. incident also resulted in fire damage to the 16-foot by 16-foot masonry block building that houses two electrical pumps used to remove water that collects in the landfill.

Methane gas is a known hazard at the facility and is a byproduct of the stored waste, according to Deputy State Fire Marshal Jason Mowbray.

An investigation into the incident, and possible Fire Prevention Code violations, is ongoing, with the assistance of the Maryland Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

Doug Whitehead, director of landfill operations for Waste Management, told the Times-News at the time of the accident that Abucebicz was alone when the incident occurred and his injuries prevented him from being questioned.

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