Overheating molecular reactor causes St. Charles fire

St. Louis, MO – An overheating molecular reactor is the apparent cause of a explosion and fire early Monday morning at a St. Charles company that makes chemicals for insecticides and industrial lubricants.

Several fire departments and the St. Charles County HazMat team responded to the incident at the SantoLubes facility on Governor Place in St. Charles. Skip Ricketts with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources says a SantoLubes employee made a mixture of two chemicals that almost immediately overheated the reactor, causing the blast. Ricketts said it appears the employee followed all the safety precautions. The explosion did not damage any chemical storage containers on the property.

The employee, Robert Exner, remains hospitalized with burns on his arms, legs, hands and face.

SantoLubes owner George Garrison told the Post Dispatch that the blast may have happened because of contamination in the reactor.