February, 2008

This is a repeating event

200807FebAll DayImperial Sugar Dust Explosion 2008Imperial Sugar Co. Port Wentworth (US-GA) Origin: CSB Lessons:Asset integrity,Competency,Compliance with Standards,Incident Investigation,Management of Change,Operational Integrity,Risk AssessmentIndustry:Food & DrinkCountry:United StatesLanguage:ENLoC:Operator error TagsHousekeeping

Summary

On February 7, 2008, at about 7:15 p.m., a series of sugar dust explosions at the Imperial Sugar manufacturing facility in Port Wentworth, Georgia, resulted in 14 worker fatalities. Eight workers died at the scene and six others eventually succumbed to their injuries at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Georgia. Thirty six workers were treated for serious burns and injuries – some caused permanent, life altering conditions. The explosions and subsequent fires destroyed the sugar packing buildings, palletizer room, and silos, and severely damaged the bulk train car loading area and parts of the sugar refining process areas.

KEY ISSUES:
• COMBUSTIBLE DUST HAZARD RECOGNITION
• MINIMIZING COMBUSTIBLE DUST ACCUMULATION IN THE WORKPLACE
• EQUIPMENT DESIGN & MAINTENANCE

ROOT CAUSES:
1. Sugar and cornstarch conveying equipment was not designed or maintained to minimize the release of sugar and sugar dust into the work area.
2. Inadequate housekeeping practices resulted in significant accumulations of combustible sugar and sugar dust on the floors and elevated surfaces throughout the packing buildings.
3. Imperial Sugar emergency evacuation plans were inadequate. Emergency evacuation drills were not conducted, and prompt worker notification to evacuate in the event of an emergency was inadequate.


Image credit: CSB

Origin

CSBUS Chemical Safety Board

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