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How hazardous waste dump-recycled generator may have killed Halesowen Navy man
Mar 10 2009
An oxygen generator which exploded killing two British nuclear submarine crewmen - one from Halesowen in the West Midlands - may have been recycled from a hazardous waste dump to cut costs.
Operator mechanic Anthony Huntrod, 20, from Sunderland, died from multiple injuries while leading mechanic operator Paul McCann, 32, from Halesowen, was poisoned to death by carbon monoxide when the 3.3lb (1.5kg) device blew up on board HMS Tireless in 2007.
The men were involved in a wargames training exercise on board the hunter-killer class sub, which was sailing hundreds of feet under the arctic ice pack 170 miles north of Deadhorse, in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
They were trapped in a forward escape compartment when the Scog (Self Contained Oxygen Generator) exploded, buckling the hatch doors and preventing rescuers from reaching them.
Tireless, which had 130 crewmen on board, surfaced immediately, punching a hole through the pack ice for survivors to be airlifted to safety.
The Scog which exploded could have been taken from a supply of almost 1,000 oxygen candles found in a Hazardous Waste Store close to the Royal Naval port in Plymouth, the inquest heard.
Royal Navy engineer Chris Clark, a member of the armed forces Marine Environment Survivability and Habitability (MESH) project, was responsible for Scogs throughout the fleet. He agreed to allow 20 tonnes of Scogs from the dump to be taken to the Royal Navy stores in Devonport, for use on submarines. He told the inquest there was no record of where the Scogs were from or why they had been dumped.
Often different batches would get mixed up as they were moved on and off submarines, he said. This made keeping track of exactly which Scogs were which very difficult. Some of those recycled from the dump may have been from a faulty batch he had ordered be recalled, after a fault during the manufacturing process made them unsafe.
Just 90 of the 294 of these Scogs, made by Molecular Products Ltd, had been recovered. The inquest heard an "unidentified" Scog - for which there was no record or batch number - was more likely to be put on board a sub because it would be assumed to be older than others available.
The candles, which the inquest heard were prone to malfunction if not in pristine condition, could burn with "ferocious violence".