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Praxair wants to reopen temporarily

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By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis –


Video Courtesy of Praxair
:33 Seconds

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Executives with Praxair Distribution say a faulty valve was the likely cause of a massive fire at its St. Louis plant in June.

Company President Wayne Yakich said a security video shows flammable gas leaking from a cylinder. And he said static electricity may have ignited that gas.

"Part of the reason why it spread, was because we had the chemical acetylene trailers on site as well," Yakich said. "So some of these cylinders where the fire started somehow exploded, and were projected into the acetylene trailers."

Yakich said he hopes to reopen the facility on a temporary basis within the next few months to distribute both flammable and non-flammable gas.

But he said Praxair will not fill acetylene cylinders there anymore. And all flammable cylinders would be stored under a fire supression system.

But Greg Yin, with the Lafayette Square Neighborhood Association, says the new safety precautions probably won't cut it with residents.

"So they're storing flammables in the building under a deluge system," Yin said. "Is that better? Probably. Is that really what the neighborhood's looking for? Probably not."

Praxair needs a building permit to reopen temporarily. But Alderman Lewis Reed says he'll try to stop it if residents express concern.

The company is still looking for a permanent site.

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