EPA Releases Case Study on Chemical Explosion

Based on its review of an explosion and fire at the Chief Supply Corp. in 1997, EPA released a case study on the dangers of waste fuel blending operations.

Based on its review of an explosion and fire at the Chief Supply Corp. in Haskell, Okla., EPA released a case study, "Prevention of Reactive Chemical Explosions," on the dangers of waste fuel blending operations.

The accident, which occurred on March 26, 1997, killed one worker, injured two others, and caused extensive damage to the facility.

Although the study, does not identify the exact cause of the accident, the potential for such an incident exists whenever strong oxidizers are mixed with oxidizable and combustible organic substances.

EPA identifies lessons learned in hopes that other facilities will profit from past mistakes and prevent them from happening in the future.

Some of the pointers from the study include the following.

  • Facilities must ensure that all chemical processing hazards and their consequences are evaluated, understood and appropriately addressed and controlled.
  • Facility management needs to foster open communication with all levels of employees about hazard awareness and lessons learned, and take immediate action to address concerns raised by workers.
  • The steps for safe start-up, shutdown, routine operations, emergencies and maintenance must be documented in Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). These must be understood, periodically reviewed and kept up-to-date.
  • Facilities must ensure that employees are trained in their job responsibilities. Facility managers should also ensure that failures are recognized, evaluated and addressed.

A copy of the case study is available at www.epa.gov.

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