GOSHEN — A methane explosion at Goshen’s wastewater treatment plant early Monday morning, March 24, left major damage but did not affect operations.
City utility engineer Dustin Sailor said methane gas ignited around 5 a.m. in the sludge thickener building connected to the plant’s administrative offices. No one was injured.
“The damage is pretty extensive,” Sailor said. “When it ignited, it moved all four walls with the heaviest damage to the west and north.”
The blast moved the wall facing west roughly 6 inches, broke glass windows and warped the plastic coverings on lights hanging from the ceiling.
“I’ve been doing this 36 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this before,” plant superintendent Jim Kerezman said.
The explosion was caused by methane that had built up in the thickener building. The gas came from the nearby digester building where pathogens in sludge are killed.
“The process produces methane gas, which is stored in the big blue bubble next door,” Kerezman said. “We use that to heat our buildings and heat our sludge again. There’s a common pipe that connects the two, and there’s a drain that goes to the sewer line, and that’s where it ended up going.”
The explosion happened an hour before staff arrived at work.
“There are usually two people in the offices and maintenance is around everywhere,” Kerezman said. “It happened so early in the morning, we’re just thankful nobody was here. It had to have been loud do that to a building.”
An alarm inside the building, located at 1000 Wilden Ave., alerted city officials. Kerezman said an operator discovered the damage and called the fire department.
“The fire department was here for a little while to make sure everything was OK,” Kerezman said.
The city’s insurance adjuster advised Sailor to begin collecting quotes for the damage.
“We’re still piecing it all together,” Sailor said.
Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.