Port Neches, TX- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined the TPC group $514,692 for willful violations linked to the explosions and fire November 27 at the Port Neches, Texas plant.
An investigation found that the cause of explosions and fires was from the formation of a vapor at the base of a butadiene finishing tower which then ignited. The initial blast and then fires injured three workers and caused widespread damage to the surrounding community and civilians. The blast prompted evacuations that impacted near 50,000 people in the surrounding communities.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in a statement that it cited TPC for three willful violations by not developing and implementing procedures for emergency shutdown and not inspecting and testing process vessel and piping components. Because of these willful violations, TPC faces $514,692 in civil OSHA fines.
Jay, ME- Malfunctioning machinery sent wood fiber and other debris shooting into the sky after a massive explosion at a paper mill in Jay, Maine, Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
All employees at the mill have since been accounted for and no injuries were reported.
At 12:06 p.m., Jay police and fire officials received reports of an explosion at a paper factory operated by Pixelle Specialty Paper Solutions at 300 Riley Rd., Davis said. Pixelle spokeswoman Roxie Lassetter said a rupture in the pressure valve of a digester, which creates pulp from wood chips to be used in the paper, caused the explosion.
Lassetter said none of the 165 employees who were inside the building were near the explosion. Some employees and people close to the plant were treated at the scene for minor respiratory issues from the debris in the air, but no one was taken to the hospital, she said.
Lassetter said the blast sent water, wood fiber, and chemicals used during the pulping process into the air during the blast. Environmental officials from the state will assess the area for any hazards, she said.
Pixelle has yet to determine the extent of the damage. Fire officials and representatives from the company will start to assess the site Thursday morning, though Lassetter said the area of the blast has sustained “significant damage.”
Houston,TX- A massive explosion rocked a northwest Houston neighborhood Friday morning, breaking windows, collapsing ceilings and even knocking houses off their foundations up to two miles away, resulting in two fatalities.
Houston fire officials say the chemical involved in the explosion was propylene.
As a hazardous chemical, propylene is covered by a number of federal environmental and worker safety regulations.
Companies have to file those inventories with the state, its local emergency planning committee and the local fire department.
On its 2015 inventory, Watson Grinding and Manufacturing did not include propylene. It only listed liquefied oxygen.
If a company releases propylene into the air, it is required to report that release in the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory. Most releases of propylene occur at larger chemical companies. Propylene is used in plastic manufacturing to make polyproplyene which is used in countless household products. It’s also used as a fuel in large and small facilities.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers propylene a hazardous material. There’s a number of worker safety rules that apply to the storage and handling of propylene and other liquefied petroleum gases that are similar to it.
The OSHA regulations related to propylene all likely applied to Watson Grinding and Manufacturing. The company was fined in 2013 for failing to properly control hazardous energy. Propylene would likely be covered by those rules.
According to the company’s website, Watson Grinding and Manufacturing provides machining, grinding, lapping & thermal spray coatings to customers. It claims to specialize in the turning and milling of exotic alloys, hard metals and large parts.
“The quality of our in-house manufacturing processes is assured by our ISO 9001:2008 certification, team of QA/QC certified professionals and our fully equipped in-house Metallurgical Laboratory,” the website states.
At 9:30 am, Houston Fire Department says HazMat crews have secured the 2,000 gallon tank of propylene gas that was leaking at the blast site. There is still reportedly a small fire burning.
According to a news released dated November, 2015, the company is located in more than 84,000 square feet of facilities, and employs more than 125 people.
Waukegan, IL- An OSHA investigation into the deaths of four employees of an Illinois chemical plant has resulted in more than a million dollars in proposed penalties against AB Specialty Silicones LLC.
The company has been cited for a dozen willful federal safety violations in the explosion and fire at its Waukegan facility on May 3, 2019 that caused deaths of four employees.
The silicon chemical products manufacturer faces $1,591,176 in penalties and has been placed in the in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
OSHA investigators determined AB Specialty Silicones failed to ensure that electrical equipment and installations in the production area of the plant complied with OSHA electrical standards, and were approved for hazardous locations. The company also used forklifts powered by liquid propane to transport volatile flammable liquids, and operated these forklifts in areas where employees handled and processed volatile flammable liquids and gases, creating the potential for ignition.
Conroe, TX – An electrical panel explosion and fire at Aegion Coating Services’ production plant sent two electricians to the hospital this month.
Investigators say two electricians were seriously burned when a high voltage electrical panel they were working on exploded.
According to the local Fire Marshal, multiple agencies responded to the emergency and the facility was evacuated as a precaution. One report described heavy black smoke billowing from a large warehouse at the site. The fire caused by the electrical panel explosion was quickly put out by firefighters. The chemicals present at this plant were a concern for area firefighters, but it was reported that no chemicals were released and local residents were not evacuated.
Both affected electricians were transported to the hospital for burn treatments, but were back to work when the plant was authorized to resume operations later that same day.
The Aegion chemical plant facility north of Houston specializes in pipeline coatings for both onshore and offshore installations. The incident is currently under investigation by the County Fire Marshal’s Office.
Please contact Martin Technical to learn more about Electrical and Arc Flash safety.
Chambersburg, PA – OSHA is conducting an investigation at Letterkenny Army Depot following a chemical explosion which sparked a fire that killed two employees.
Eric Byers (age 29) of Huntingdon County (PA) and Richard Barnes (age 60) of Greencastle (PA) died from their injuries, two other workers were treated at a nearby hospital and released for smoke inhalation.
The explosion and fire at Letterkenny Army Depot occurred on July 19, 2018 and were caused by an accident with a chemical in the paint shop of Building 350. According to the Depot Commander, the chemical in question was being used in normal processes. Officials have declined to specify which chemical sparked the fatal explosion and fire.
Building 350 is used for maintenance and upgrades on military vehicles. The building was not damaged in the explosion or fire.
The Depot Commander reports that corrective action has been taken, including additional training and signs, with further steps planned to minimize the risks associated with chemical use.
As part of the Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence for Air Defense and Tactical Missile Systems, Letterkenny Army Depot facilities conduct maintenance, modification, and storage. It is the largest employer in Franklin County, PA.
Promontory, UT – A propellant explosion trapped an Autoliv North America worker inside a burning building. He was rescued, but died of his injuries.
64-year-old Ronald Larson was trapped in a fire that consumed the mixing portion of Autoliv North America’s Promontory (UT) facility. He died at the hospital following an explosion in a laboratory where he was making propellants for air bag inflators earlier this week.
OSHA is leading the investigation into the industrial accident that cost 64-year-old Ronald Larson his life. The immediate cause of the explosion has yet to be fully been determined.
According to local media, Larson “was trapped inside and on site personnel were making efforts to try and extricate him from [Autoliv’s mixing] building.” The employee was successfully extricated from the building and taken to a local hospital with severe burns. Unfortunately, Larson had stopped breathing upon arrival at the hospital. Lifesaving efforts were in progress, but he was pronounced deceased a short time afterward.
Larson is reported to have been alone in the mixing portion of the building at the time of the explosion and subsequent fire. Two other workers were injured in the fire and in trying to rescue their co-worker. Their injuries are not life-threatening.
Autoliv is based in Sweden and has several facilities in Utah under the Autoliv North America brand. They are the world’s largest automotive safety supplier.
This Autoliv North America location in Promontory was the site of two previous industrial explosions and fires. In 2015 an explosion injured an employee there, and in 2013 a flash fire burned a worker’s arms and face. These prior incident will factor into OSHA’s investigation of the company’s safety practices and could lead to steeper fines if lapses in environmental health and safety are found to have been willful.
Wellington, New Zealand – An electric utility worker in New Zealand has been awarded more than $85,000 in compensation after suffering serious burns in an electrical arc flash while working at a Wellington substation in 2014. The heat of the arc flash was so severe that the man’s pants melted on his legs.
The electrical accident occurred when two Northpower employees were performing maintenance work on roadside transformers. A bracket fell onto live contacts, causing an electrical short and arc flash. In court, the injured man testified that he had pulled a transformer off a panel, and was then hit by the arc flash and flames.
The electrician, who was 20 when the accident occurred, described the pain, trauma and ongoing effects of the incident in court last week. “I pulled the transformer off the panel and all I could hear was myself screaming and the flames and the arc flash,” he told Wellington District Court on Thursday. “All I could feel was intense heat and there was me, running for my life.”
An Arc Flash is an electrical explosion due to a fault condition or short circuit when either a phase to ground or phase to phase conductor is connected and current flows through the air. Temperatures may exceed 35,000° F. For reference, the surface of the sun is 9000° F.
These high temperatures cause rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures, resulting in an arc blast. The arc flash will likely vaporize all solid copper conductors which will expand up to 67,000 times their original volume when vaporized. An arc flash produces fire, intense light, pressure waves, and flying shrapnel any of which can cause electrical equipment to explode, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment.
When an arc flash happens, it does so without warning and is lightning quick. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to any nearby people. Proper safety and protection measures must be taken to limit the damage from an arc flash which include conducting an arc flash study, short circuit study, and NFPA 70E electrical safety training.
The court ruled that Wellington Electricity and Northpower failed to provide clear instructions to prompt workers to stop if they encountered increased risks or conditions; was responsible for not shutting off the power before work was undertaken; and for not documenting hazard assessments. The 2014 incident led to immediate changes in Northpower’s work practices, including a new approach to planning and risk assessment.
Queensland, Australia – Three maintenance workers fixing a power board sustained third-degree burns after an electrical explosion at the JBS processing plant in Ipswich, Queensland (Australia). Two other employees were hospitalized for smoke inhalation related to the accident.
The injuries were likely the result of an arc flash. The maintenance workers suffered severe burns on their upper bodies, faces, and hands.
An arc flash is an electrical explosion due to a fault condition or short circuit when either a phase to ground or phase to phase conductor is connected and current flows through the air. Arc flashes cause electrical equipment to explode, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment.
Temperatures may exceed 35,000° F (the surface of the sun is 9000° F). These high temperatures cause rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures, resulting in an arc blast. Such a blast can vaporize all solid copper conductors. When vaporized, these conductors expand up to 67,000 times original volume. As a result, an arc flash and arc blast produces fire, intense light, pressure waves, and flying shrapnel.
When an arc flash happens, it does so without warning and is lightning quick. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or evne death to any nearby people. Proper safety and protection measures must be taken to limit the damage from an arc flash. These measures include conducting an arc flash study, short circuit study, and NFPA 70E electrical safety training.
The JBS facility is the largest beef plant in the southern hemisphere, with a daily production of 3,350 head per day. JBS in Ipswich employs about 2,000 making it the largest employer in that region.
Newark, NJ – In an August inspection, OSHA claims to have found 17 serious safety and health violations at Elan Chemical Company Inc. Citations, including for failures in written procedures, have been issued and the proposed penalties total $72,100.
Elan Chemical manufactures flavor and fragrance products. Alleged violations at their Doremus Avenue facility in Newark, NJ included deficiencies in equipment process safety information, process hazard analysis, and written operating procedures, as well as other safety and testing issues.
A statement from OSHA reads as follows: “The violations identified in this inspection create a hazardous environment for the plant’s workers…This facility uses more than 10,000 pounds of ethyl chloride, a highly flammable liquefied gas. The company’s failure to comply with OSHA’s process safety management standard could result in a chemical release, as well as a serious fire or explosion.”