The U.S. Chemical Safety Board says failure to follow proper chemical process safety management caused an explosion in West Virginia last year that killed two employees. One of the workers was hospitalized 41 days with burns before he died.
The explosion and fire at the Bayer CropScience plant last August was caused by a thermal runaway reaction during production of insecticide.
A vessel ruptured and flew about 50 feet through the air, demolishing equipment, twisting steel beams, and breaking pipes and conduits.
Eight others were treated and released from a local hospital for chemical exposure.
The CSB says the situation could have been even worse. The explosion happened within 80 feet of a pressure vessel containing more than 13,000 pounds of methyl isocyanate (MIC). That’s the same chemical that caused thousands of deaths in Bhopal, India, 25 years ago.
The preliminary results also state that the explosion was partially caused by a workaround which involved defeating safety interlocks. Plant management had known about the workaround for some time.
OSHA had already fined Bayer $143,000. Bayer is contesting those fines. CSB doesn’t have the authority to issue fines.
The investigation is continuing. The CSB wanted to release preliminary information for the benefit of residents near the plant.
For more information on the CSB investigation, click here.