Aerial view of Imperial Sugar following 2008 dust explosion and fire (photo courtesy of CSB)
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has released a new safety video depicting how accumulations of combustible dust at worksites can provide the fuel for devastating explosions that kill and maim workers, shut down plants, and harm local economies.Entitled, “Combustible Dust: An Insidious Hazard,” the new video is available online at www.csb.gov.The video features computer animations that illustrate three major dust explosion accidents the CSB has investigated:West Pharmaceutical Services in Kinston, N.C.; CTA Acoustics in Corbin, Ky.; and Hayes Lemmerz International, in Huntington, Ind. For each accident, the animations show how explosive dust accumulated over years on plant equipment, pipes, floors, ducts, dust collectors, and other areas.The video shows how conditions develop needing only an ignition source to set off a primary explosion, which lofts the accumulated dust, leading to deadlier secondary explosions. News footage and still photographs depict actual damage caused by these explosions, as well as other accidents including last year’s tragedy which killed 14 workers at the Imperial Sugar Company in Port Wentworth, Ga.
“No company wants to see its facility blown up and destroyed and its employees killed,” CSB chairman John Bresland says in the video. “But they just don't understand what the hazard is, they don't realize that they have a hazard here, until that one day when the explosion occurs, and it's a terrible tragedy for them.And they look back and say, ‘If we'd only known.’”
The video points out that dust accumulations — and the resulting secondary dust explosions — can be readily prevented.National Fire Protection Association standards have long been available to general industry and, if followed, will prevent such accidents, as NFPA official Amy Beasley Spencer states in the video.