Contractor killed in explosion at plant

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August 21, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---A man is dead after an explosion at Farmers and Truckers Biodiesel on Highway 56, across from International Paper. Coroner Charlena Graham identifies the man as 35-year-old Jason Karstedt of Augusta.

Investigators say Karstedt was welding a flow meter to a gas tank when the explosion happened, killing him.

Plant Co-Owner Chuck Pardue says Karstedt was a contracted worker who had been working at the plant all day. Graham says he is an employee from Advanced Industrial Metal Fabricators, Inc.

Pardue says the tank was empty, but it had previously held sodium methalate, a wet chemical, which is flammable. Pardue says all precautions were taken to empty the tank, but one possibility is that there were sodium methalate vapors left inside.

Another man was working six feet away, but he was not injured.

The chemical does not pose a threat to the area.

The fire was put out immediately and did not affect other tanks nearby.

Fire investigators and police are awaiting OSHA's arrival before looking into the scene.

The man's body was taken to the Phinizy Road crime lab. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday.

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