5 taken to hospital after explosion near Patriots Point

(Lia Sestric/WCIV)

MT. PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- Five people were injured in an explosion near Patriots Point Friday morning.

Officials at the scene said five men were working near a manhole at the time of the explosion, working on a pipe that held electrical lines going under the harbor. All five were taken to Medical University Hospital for treatment.

The men injured were above ground. The men below were unharmed.

Battalion Chief Steven Drozd said one man is in critical condition, the other four have minor injuries.

"Some guys doing a procedure in a confined area were using nitrogen to fill a pipe and they had a piece of equipment fail causing some injuries to some of their employees," said Chief Drozd. "It was a large piece of conduit that had electrical lines in it."

Officials have not said what triggered the explosion or expounded on the details of the injuries suffered by the four men.

"It (the liquid nitrogen) went into a gaseous state and the piece that failed, it was glass and it blew up and the injuries were related to that explosion," Chief Drozd explained and said he did not see any burn injuries, only shrapnel related.

"It sounded like a spare tire blew out," said College of Charleston employee Milton Langley. "So I didn't pay that much attention to it."

Officials with Patriots Point confirm that the incident is not on their property. A spokesperson for SCE&G says it was their facility but the workers were contractors with UTEC Constructors Corp.

A UTEC spokesman said a high pressure line broke, which triggered the small explosion. He added that a few of the men who were injured have been released from the hospital. Everyone involved is expected to be OK, he said.

UTEC has plans to investigate the incident.