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.”
Ahmedabad, India- Seven people reportedly died in a garment factory fire in India in February, according to reports from local news sources. On the Saturday night, the Nandan Denim factory in Ahmedabad caught fire, which raged through Sunday morning. According to a 2018/2019 annual report, the factory works with a number of major brands, including Ann Taylor, Zara, Ralph Lauren and Polo, and Target.
The Indian Express reports that the fire started in the shirting part of the factory, where there was no ventilation. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but police reportedly said that a preliminary probe revealed there was only one exit on the first floor, which was accessible only by a ladder, and there were no fire safety measures in place. A representative from the Labour and Employment Department said that the factory would be closed until further review of the safety initiatives in place.
While it’s rare, it’s not unheard of for garment workers to die while on the job. In December, a fire at a handbag factory in Delhi killed 43 workers, and the 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh killed over 1,000 garment workers. The Nandan factory has certifications from eco-friendly groups like the Better Cotton Initiative, Global Organic Textile Standard, and Oeko-Tex, though those primarily certify the safety of the chemicals used in manufacturing. Nandan’s annual report has a “Social, Health, and Safety” section that reads, “Our goal remains to achieve ‘zero fatality’ and we are committed to achieving this through the effective management of health and safety risks.” Police are still investigating the factors which led to the accident.
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.
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.
Chattanooga, TN – Two workers performing maintenance on a sewer line in Chattanooga were injured in a confined space explosion this week. The two men were employees of SpectraShield, a subcontractor used by the City of Chattanooga.
The men were down in a manhole when the flash fire broke out, they were able to escape the confined space and call for help. Firefighters were dispatched, the fire was already out when they arrived. Tennessee’s OSHA division is involved in the investigation into the cause of the accident.
One worker suffered minor burns but was not hospitalized. The other was transported to a local hospital to be treated for second-degree burns.
Dayton, OH – Two firefighters suffered non-life-threatening injuries while responding to an industrial fire at the MAHLE Behr Dayton (OH) facility last week. Fire crews traced the fire to an electrical substation on the roof. The substation had electricity flowing into it, but not out of the transformers. The substation then overheated in an electrical fault.
The firefighters were treated at the hospital and at the scene – one suffered a leg injury when he fell over hose that was being extended from fire equipment, and the other received an electrical shock.
The transformers that caught fire are not used to energize anything inside the plant, so operations at the plant will not be interrupted. MAHLE Behr Dayton is reported to be a 570,000-square-foot manufacturing and assembly facility which produces heater cores, HVAC modules, radiators, engine cooling modules and fan clutches and employs up to 1,000.
Chapel Hill, NC – OSHA is investigating the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill due to an arc flash incident this month that resulted in a power outage at the campus’ Dey Hall and Wilson Library. The outage was caused when an arc flash struck a UNC employee while he was working in the transformer vault of Dey Hall. The employee was hospitalized for arc flash burns.
According to an OSHA statement, the employee was seen “running out of the building on fire.” Someone helped put the fire out, according to the release, and EMS was called. The employee was taken to UNC hospital. Davis Library, Student Stores, the Student Union, the House Undergraduate Library and Wilson Library were all closed due to the outage, and have since reopened.