The Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) today released a report on its investigation into the March 16, 2016 explosion in the Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute biofuels research laboratory in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Pacific Ocean Science and Technology building. The report identifies equipment as the probable cause and recommends further investigation.

“We want to thank fire department for its outstanding work and professionalism for its investigation and the response the night of the accident,“ said UH Mānoa Vice Chancellor Michael Bruno. The HFD report has been sent to the University of California Center for Laboratory Safety, which has been retained to conduct an independent investigation and is considered a national leader in laboratory safety.

The UC Center for Laboratory Safety report will be extensive and is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

Shortly after the accident, UH Mānoa’s Environmental Health and Safety Office surveyed the 500-plus labs on the Mānoa campus and determined that no similar experiments like the one involved in the accident were taking place. Other steps are being taken.

“A new safety committee at UH Mānoa is in the process of being convened that will be called the Chemical and Physical Safety Committee,” said Bruno. “It will have representatives from all of the schools and colleges that have research and teaching laboratories and will work with other safety-related committees already in existence to identify and implement protocols and processes to further strengthen the safety of our laboratories.”

UH leadership is committed to a culture of safety in each and every research and teaching laboratory on our campus.

“I want to reemphasize the importance of ensuring that laboratory safety protocols and training are up-to-date, including ensuring that all equipment is suitable and meets relevant requirements and that emergency access to all laboratories is readily available,” said UH Mānoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman in an April 4 message to the UH Mānoa community.

For questions regarding laboratory safety, email or call the Environmental Health and Safety Office at labsafe@hawaii.edu or 808-956-8660.

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University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Pacific Ocean Science and Technology Building

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