Today's News / Facility Safety

Hot work explosion in Arkansas kills three workers

May 23, 2012
KEYWORDS explosion / flammable / tank / work
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CSBThe U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) yesterday deployed a four-person investigation team to El Dorado, Arkansas to determine the cause of an explosion and fire that severely burned and killed three workers. 

The accident occurred mid-afternoon on Monday on an oil tank site operated by Long Brothers Oil Company on land the company leased near El Dorado, in the southernmost part of the state. Preliminary information gathered by the CSB indicates workers were conducting hot work – defined as any burning, cutting, welding or other operation that is capable of initiating fires or explosions – on one of the tanks.  The CSB team is expected to begin its investigation on site tomorrow morning. 

CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said said the Board investigates far too many similar hot work accidents, which can be prevented by carefully monitoring for flammable vapor before and during hot work. 

The CSB has released a safety bulletin and safety video on the hazards of welding or cutting around piping and tanks that have not been tested or monitored to see if they contain flammable hydrocarbons.

The bulletin, released in February 2010, is entitled, “Seven Key Lessons to Prevent Worker Deaths During Hot Work In and Around Tanks: Effective Hazard Assessment and Use of Combustible Gas Monitoring Will Save Lives.” 

The video, “Hot Work: Hidden Hazards,” is available at www.CSB.gov or at www.YouTube.com/uscsb. It was released along with the final report on the DuPont Buffalo, New York facility explosion and fire that occurred November 9, 2010, killing a contract worker and injuring another.  The CSB determined the explosion was caused by sparks in a welding operation taking place atop a storage tank that contained flammable vinyl chloride. While the atmosphere above the tank was tested for flammable vapor, the the CSB said a root cause of the accident was the failure to monitor the interior of the tank. 

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