Leander explosion caused by malfunctioning projectile launcher

Bobby Blanchard

The cause of an equipment malfunction that resulted in a gas explosion at a University-leased building in Leander, Texas is still unclear, Juan Sanchez, vice president for research, said.

Tuesday morning, researchers at the facility on Bagdad Rd. were conducting high-velocity projectile impact experiments when a piece of equipment malfunctioned, resulting in a gas explosion. Sanchez said officials believe the piece of equipment that failed was part of a projectile launcher, but the exact cause is still unknown.

“We obviously will conduct an in-depth investigation by UT scientists and external scientists to try and make a calculation of what was the root cause,” Sanchez said.

After the explosion, the roof’s building detached and flying debris hit a passing car. The driver suffered minor injuries and was transported to St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, but no other injuries were reported. Sanchez said the building was not structurally sound to contain the gas explosion.

“All other safety measures have been taken, the staffers and researchers inside the building were not injured,” Sanchez said. “But the building itself could not contain this fracture.”

Sanchez said the University has discontinued the experiment that caused the explosion, and the building will likely remain operational.

“There are other activities at the site of the building that are small scale experiments,” Sanchez said. “Those do not offer any risk and will probably continue.