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Cause Of Tacoma Landfill Explosion Remains A Mystery

Fri., June 2, 1995

Tacoma police investigating the cause of the explosion that rocked the city’s landfill say they cannot find blast debris from any kind of device.

“There was no evidence of designed attempt,” Sgt. Jim Bass said Thursday. “Somebody probably threw away commercial explosives which got ground up in the hammer mill and exploded.”

There were no injuries.

Police said the cost could run up to about $50,000 but damage was minimal.

They were going to shut down the hammer mill for repairs pretty soon so if an accident had to happen, it was pretty good timing, Bass said.

The hammer mill is where trash that can be safely burned in the city’s steam plant is sent to be crushed, Tacoma City spokesman Dan Voelpel said.

The force of Wednesday’s explosion blew off a metal plate on the conveyor belt transporting trash into the mill. A rubber mat covering a vent above the mill flew 60 to 80 yards and landed on the roof of another building at the landfill.

“It was one hell of an explosion,” said landfill truck driver Jerry Gettman. “I’m surprised no one was hurt. It was pretty amazing.” Gettman likened the explosion to a C-4 blast. Other workers said the sound and smell of sulfur from the blast reminded them of fireworks.


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