January, 2021

This is a repeating event

202107JanAll DaySierra Chemical Explosion 1998Sierra Chemical Co. Mustang (US-NV) Origin: CSB Lessons:Commitment & Culture,Competency,Risk Assessment,Workforce InvolvementIndustry:ExplosivesCountry:United StatesLanguage:ENLoC:Confined explosionIncident:Explosive decompositionHazard:ExplosiveCause:ErrorImpact:HUMAN (On Site Fatalities)Consequence:1-10 FatalitiesMaterial:Explosives

Summary

On January 7, 1998, two explosions in rapid succession destroyed the Sierra Chemical Company Kean Canyon plant near Mustang, Nevada, killing four workers and injuring six others.

The Kean Canyon plant manufactured explosive boosters for the mining industry. When initiated by a blasting cap or detonation cord, boosters provide the added energy necessary to detonate less sensitive blasting agents or other high explosives. The boosters manufactured at the Kean Canyon plant consisted of a base mix and a second explosive mix, called Pentolite, both of which were poured into cardboard cylinders. The primary explosives used in the base mix were TNT (2,4,6-trinitrotoluene), PETN (pentaerythritol tetranitrate), and Comp-B, a mixture of TNT and RDX (hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine). The Pentolite is a mix of TNT and PETN.

KEY ISSUES:
• PROCESS SAFETY MANAGEMENT
• WORKER TRAINING
• PROCESS HAZARD ANALYSIS
• LANGUAGE BARRIERS

ROOT CAUSES:
1. Process hazard analysis (PHA) conducted by the facility was inadequate.
2. Training programs for facility personnel were inadequate.
3. Written operating procedures were inadequate or not available to workers.
4. The facility was built with insufficient separation distances between different operations and the design and construction of buildings was inadequate.
5. There was no systematic safety inspection or auditing program.
6. The employee participation program was inadequate.


Image Credit: CSB

Origin

CSBUS Chemical Safety Board

Time

Thu 7 Jan 2021 - Thu 7 Jan 2021

Location

Sierra Chemical Co.

2302 Larkin Cir, Sparks, NV 89431, United States

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