By H. Nelson Goodson
May 19, 2014
Saukville, WI - On Monday, the Saukville Fire Department and local police responded to an explosion at the Johnson Brass and Machine Foundry, 270 N. Mill Rd. Seven people were reported injured, 2 men were critically burned and flown by Flight for Life to the Columbia St. Mary's Hospital in Milwaukee for treatment. A third was taken there by ambulance. Four other men were taken by ambulances to nearby hospitals.
One Hispanic, Miguel Gomez, with five years seniority was splattered with hot metal in his lower body and feet; Steve Jones, with 20 years seniority was splattered with melted brass and is in critical condition and shift Supervisor Jeff, with 25 years seniority was injured after he jumped for safety, injured his head and was also splattered with melted brass were among those reported injured. Another victim was identified as Mark Edbauer Jr. who was also injured.
The explosion happened before 4:00 p.m. while the 7:00 a.m. shift workers were getting ready to leave. Some of the workers were in the shower and locker section when the explosion occurred.
One 5 ton molted piece had been completed earlier before the second attempt was made to make another piece. As melted brass was being poured into the rotating mold, it became unbalanced and got loose from the bolted base as it rotated more than 300 times per minute. The base of the mold when placed on the tumbler was narrow and the top, which was suppose to be the base was wider.
It's believed that the tumbler loaded with 10,500 pounds (5 tons) of melted brass with double digit % lead content mixture lost balanced as it rotated and tilted over. The hot brass (1,750 degrees, 3-D class temp) then poured over and combined with water used at the base to cool the rotating connection with the mold causing an explosion.
The gas torch hoses used to melt the brass burned with the melted brass spill and flames ensued. The gas flow was shut off. The torch hoses and water coolant for the tumbler are located at the base.
OSHA is expected at the scene on Tuesday. The company has had other incidents at the foundry, according to OSHA.
The plant was evacuted on Monday and employees working at the section where the incident occurred have been notified by the company not to show up for work for several days.