“Once you start something, finish it. Don’t accumulate a backlog of unfinished projects.” — Ed Bliss
If you are on the Chemical Safety Board’s distribution list, you may have noticed a lot of trade releases from the CSB in your in-box during the last few weeks. They’ve been busy. A recent press release proudly announced that in the last 12 months, they’ve cleared two-thirds of the backlog of final reports. For those of you who are not on the distribution list, we’ve summarized the final reports here and provided links to the reports themselves. They describe 12 incidents, going back as far as 2016.
Flash Fire and Explosion at Sunoco Partners Nederland Terminal
On August 12, 2016, in Nederland, Texas, hot work ignited an explosion and fires. Seven workers were injured, three seriously. The CSB published its final report on September 27, 2022.
Loy Lange Box Company Pressure Vessel Explosion
On April 3, 2017, in St. Louis, Missouri, a poorly maintained steam vessel failed so that it launched and landed on a nearby company. One worker at Loy Lange died and another suffered severe injuries. Three workers at the nearby company also died. The CSB published its final report on July 29, 2022.
Husky Energy Superior Refinery Explosion and Fire
On April 26, 2018, in Superior, Wisconsin, an explosion occurred while the refinery was shutting down in preparation for a five-week turnaround. Several people were hospitalized. The CSB published its final report on December 29, 2022.
Kuraray Pasadena Release and Fire
On May 19, 2018, in Pasadena, Texas, hot work ignited an explosion and fire in a facility that manufactures ethylene vinyl-alcohol copolymers. The incident injured 23 workers. The CSB published its final report on December 21, 2022.
Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) Refinery Fire and Explosions
On June 21, 2019, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a vapor release from a ruptured elbow in the hydrofluoric acid alkylation unit ignited, causing a fire and multiple explosions. The explosions launched three massive fragments (19 tons, 12 tons, and 8 tons) and released almost two tons of HF into the atmosphere. Five workers and a firefighter suffered minor injuries during and immediately following the incident. The CSB published its final report on October 11, 2022.
TPC Port Neches Explosions and Fire
On November 27, 2019, in Port Neches Texas, a butadiene line ruptured and exploded after popcorn polymer formed in a temporary dead leg that existed for 114 days before the explosion. Three workers reported minor injuries, as did five local residents. The CSB published its final report on December 19, 2022.
Intercontinental Terminal Company (ITC) Tank Fire
On March 17, 2019, in Deer Park, Texas, a naphtha/butane bulk storage tank caught fire. The fire spread to other tanks and burned for three days. During the fire, the containment wall breached, spilling ~500,000 barrels into Tucker Bayou. No one was injured. The CSB published its final report on July 6, 2023.
Watson Grinding Fatal Explosion and Fire
On January 24, 2020, in Houston, Texas, a propylene hose disconnected so that the flammable gas accumulated inside the coating building. It found an ignition source. The resulting explosion killed two employees and a neighbor; two other employees were injured. The CSB published its final report on June 29, 2023.
Bio-Lab Lake Charles Chemical Fire and Release
On August 27, 2020, in Lake Charles, Louisiana, a fire caused some of the pool and spa treatment chemicals manufactured at the facility to decompose, releasing chlorine into the atmosphere. No injuries were reported. The CSB published its final report on April 24, 2023.
Fatal Chemical Decomposition Reaction and Explosion at Optima Belle LLC
On December 8, 2020, in Belle, West Virginia, a runaway reaction while dehydrating sodium dichloroisocyanurate dihydrate in a pressure-rated double cone dryer resulted in an explosion. One person died and two were injured. The CSB published its final report on July 6, 2023.
Equipment Fracture and Fatal Hydrogen Chloride Release at Wacker Polysilicon
On November 13, 2020, in Charleston, Tennessee, a graphite heat exchanger cracked during maintenance activities, exposing seven workers to released hydrogen chloride. While trying to escape, one worker fell to his death and two others suffered serious injuries. The CSB published its final report on June 15, 2023.
Fatal Release of Acetic Acid and Methyl Iodide Mixture at LyondellBasell La Porte
On July 27, 2021, in La Porte, Texas, a release of 100,000 pounds of glacial acetic acid during maintenance killed two contract workers and sent 30 others for medical treatment. The CSB published its final report on May 25, 2023.
What About the Remaining One Third?
The CSB plans to issue the remaining five final reports during the second half of 2023. They are for
- the May 31, 2017, incident at Didion Milling in Cambria, Wisconsin
- the April 2, 2019, incident at KMCO in Crosby, Texas
- the January 29, 2020, incident at Wendland 1H Well in Burleson County, Texas
- the January 28, 2021, incident at Foundation Food Group in Gainesville, Georgia
- the April 8, 2021, incident at Yenkin-Majestic in Columbus, Ohio
In addition to final reports, the CSB has also issued investigation updates on incidents where their work is not finalized. More importantly, at least to those of us who are visual learners, are the videos for which the CSB is famous. The CSB has added a half-dozen videos to their incredible collection. You can find them all in the CSB video library.