Lab Explosion

ITHACA, N.Y.--Two Cornell students were injured last week in an explosion at a laboratory, and two days later they were in satisfactory condition in Tompkins Community Hospital, a hospital spokesman said last week.

William B. Sutton, Cornell class of '82, received facial cuts and lost an eye in the accident, which occurred in the Olin Research Laboratory Erik N Farley, a graduate student, who received cuts and puncture wounds in the face, hands and arms, said most of the injuries were caused by flying glass.

The two students were the only people hurt in the incident, which released no chemicals or fumes into the building. The Cornell Daily Sun reported last week.

"They seem to have been following appropriate safety procedures," said Earl Peters, professor of chemistry. "The procedure for the experiment has been in the literature for years and yeas and years," he added.

Farley agreed, saying, "I don't think any safety procedures were violated that I know of."


The students were applying a heat gun to a spherical flask of trimethy lamine n-oxide under a vacuum in an attempt to drive water out of the compound when the accident occurred. Farley added, "It heated up too much and detonated somehow," he said.

The chemistry department chairman said it was peculiarly bad luck" that the force of the explosion was directed towards the students. Several glass flasks that were nearby escaped damage.