CSB Releases Imperial Sugar Dust Explosion Safety Video

On Oct. 7, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a new, 9-minute safety video on the combustible dust explosion at the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Ga., which claimed the lives of 14 workers, injured 36 and caused extensive property damage on Feb. 7, 2008.

The video, “Inferno: Dust Explosion at Imperial Sugar,” includes a new, 4-minute, 3-D computer animation depicting the first explosion – known as a “primary event” – that likely occurred inside a recently enclosed sugar conveyor, which was followed by massive secondary dust explosions that destroyed the plant’s sugar packing buildings.

As CSB Chairman John Bresland noted in the video, “The accident at Imperial Sugar was the deadliest industrial dust explosion in the United States in decades. It illustrates the extremely serious nature of combustible dust hazards.”

CSB’s final report on the accident was approved at a public meeting on Sept. 24, 2009. At the meeting, CSB recommended that OSHA move forward expeditiously with a new combustible dust standard, as CSB first recommended in 2006, and urged Imperial Sugar and several trade associations to take other actions to reduce the hazard.

CSB investigators determined that the explosion resulted from ongoing releases of sugar from inadequately designed and maintained dust collection equipment, conveyor and sugar handling equipment. Inadequate housekeeping practices allowed highly combustible sugar dust and granulated sugar to build up throughout the refinery’s packing buildings.

The video is available for viewing and downloading on the CSB’s Web site as well as the agency’s YouTube channel. Free DVDs also are available.

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