Three members of Tau Epsilon Phi named in suit

Suit involves Clean Up Boat 2007 sodium explosion

Three members of MIT’s chapter of Tau Epsilon Phi (tEp) have been named defendants in a lawsuit by volunteers for the Charles River Clean Up Boat regarding a sodium explosion in September 2007.

In a January 26 subpoena presented to the Division of Student Life, plaintiffs Thomas Soisson and Katherine Nardin requested documents relating to the tEp sodium and potassium drops. Soisson and Nardin sustained injuries in 2007 while volunteering with the Clean Up Boat. Volunteers picked up a piece of sodium, which later exploded.

The lawsuit names Bhaskar Mookerji G, Brian Neltner G, and Matthew T. Peddie ’09 of tEp as defendants. Neltner was cited both individually and in his capacity as an officer, while Peddie was named solely in his capacity as an officer.

It is unclear what “in his capacity as an officer” means, said Mookerji. Mookerji declined to comment further on the case.

The subponea to DSL requests “any and all documents, reports, and records in the possession custody and control” of DSL relating to the tEp sodium and potassium drops.

According to the Charles River Clean Up Boat’s website, on the day of the incident, one of the volunteers retrieved an item which resembled a rough piece of styrofoam. After the object was placed in a trash bin full of wet debris, it began to smoke. Ultimately, the object caused an explosion which resulted in chemical burns to Soisson and Nardin and to three of the paramedics sent to treat them. State Police chemists later identified it as a block of sodium metal,

Hefty decontamination fees for the Boat also threatened the future of the nonprofit, but MIT made a donation of $6,000.

After learning of its infamous sodium drops, local media sources like WBZ-TV News speculated that the sodium originated at MIT. The media originally linked the incident to the East Campus sodium drop. At the time, the Massachusetts State Police had named no suspects in the investigation.

The Charles River Clean Up Boat could not be reached for comment.