SCHENECTADY – One person was killed and two injured following an explosion at a test laboratory in Schenectady on Wednesday morning.
Hudson Valley Community College identified the victim as Joseph Kapp, a longtime member of its Board of Trustees.
Kapp, of North Greenbush, was killed after a tank used to treat avocados exploded at Innovative Test Solutions on Kings Road shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday.
Roger Ramsammy, president of Hudson Valley Community College, called Kapp a “true friend, a remarkable leader and the longest serving trustee on our board.”
“Once a student at Hudson Valley, Joe gave back to the college immensely and served admirably as a trustee for two decades,” Ramsammy said. “With heavy hearts, we share our deepest sympathies with Joe’s wife, Yolanta, and the entire Kapp family.”
Kapp previously served as mayor of Rensselaer in the 1990s, according to Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin, who cited his long career in research and invention.
“Joe Kapp leaves behind a legacy of service and accomplishment that greatly benefited Rensselaer County and the Capital Region,” McLaughlin said in a statement.
Kapp was transferred to Ellis Medicine before succumbing to his injuries.
Two other workers were also hurt with injuries described by city fire officials as non life-threatening.
R. Scott Briody, vice president and owner of Innovative Test Solutions, attributed the death to the “catastrophic failure” of a high pressure food processor during trial operational testing.
Arriving firefighters found no chemicals or hazardous materials, but Assistant Fire Department Chief Don Mareno said the device exploded.
“They were operating it and something went wrong,” Mareno said.
Nothing was in the machine at the time, he said.
“We are deeply saddened by this loss of life,” Briody said in a statement. “We grieve for him, his family, and the family of the other victims who were involved.”
Briody declined further comment, citing respect for impacted families and employees, but said the company will cooperate with all investigations.
“The well-being of the families and our employees is our primary concern,” Briody said.
The tank exploded just after 7 a.m. at the business located at 551 Kings Road in the city’s Woodlawn neighborhood.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched an inspection of Innovative Test Systems on Wednesday, as well as the Wyantsville-based Elmhurst Systems, LLC, an agency spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday.
The federal agency has up to six months to complete an inspection, which seeks to determine whether or not there were any violations of workplace safety standards.
It is too early to estimate a completion date for these inspections, the spokesperson said.
Investigators remained on site Wednesday afternoon.
Innovative Test Solutions has been at the Kings Road site since 2011. It was founded in Scotia in 2004 and its website describes it as a “full-service mechanical engineering and testing laboratory specializing in the mechanical behavior of structures and structural material.”