Lab explosion shrapnel injures motorist

June 13, 2012 at 8:37 PM

LEANDER, Texas, June 13 (UPI) -- A motorist sustained minor injuries when a gas explosion sent shrapnel flying at a University of Texas-run lab doing research for the U.S. Army, officials said.

UT spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon said the explosion occurred Tuesday when equipment failed and gas leaked from a pressurized line, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Weldon said the explosion tore apart the leased metal building housing the lab, run by University of Texas Institute for Advanced Technology in Leander, northwest of Austin. There were four or five employees in the building at the time and none were injured, Weldon said.

The motorist was taken to St. David's Round Rock Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries, Weldon said.

The lab does research on high-velocity projectiles and their impact on targets, UT spokesman Gary Susswein said.

The lab began operating in the Leander building 20 years ago when "it was isolated from the more-populated areas," Susswein said.

"Clearly, the area around the facility has grown over the last few years," he said.

Susswein said the lab had no guards but wouldn't provide more details about the work done there.

Officials said UT's Environmental Health and Safety department will investigate the explosion.

There had never been an accident at the lab before Tuesday, Susswein said.

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