The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Just a "normal day" at Ford Rouge - two explosions and one fire

Jun 23, 2003

On Saturday, June 21st, two explosions occurred in Blast Furnace C of Rouge Steel in the Ford Rouge complex, in Dearborn, Michigan. The first explosion, due to a gas leak, took place about 7:15 in the morning. While the Fire department was there trying to put out the resulting fire, another explosion, due to a gas build-up, occurred, spewing rocks and bricks into the air. The explosions were felt in the neighborhood of South Dearborn, with black smoke billowing so high into the sky, it could be seen four miles north in the middle of Detroit.

Two workers sustained what news reports called "minor injuries" – one, had a concussion, and the second, was hit with falling debris.

News reports also downplayed the seriousness of the accident, quoting people saying, "no big thing – this is normal." Reporters were also quick to add that construction on the new Ford Truck Plant was not affected by the explosions and fires. In other words, don't worry. Everything is running like normal at the Rouge.

That's true. Because it isn't uncommon for explosions and fires to happen at the Rouge. The Ford Rouge complex has had a whole series of explosions and fires resulting in deaths and serious accidents in the last several years.

Since February of 1999, when the Powerhouse exploded, killing six workers and injuring 20 more, no fewer than 10 workers have been killed and no fewer than 35 workers have sustained injuries in the complex. Only last October, one worker was killed and another critically burned while cleaning in Blast Furnace B, adjacent to Saturday's incident.

Explosions and fires normal? Yes, because the Rouge complex IS unsafe, IS hazardous, IS a dangerous place to work.

Let the press try to put a different spin on what happened – it can't change this reality.