March, 2011

This is a repeating event

201121MarAll DayCarbide Industries Fire 2011Carbide Industries Louisville (US-KY) Origin: CSB Lessons:Compliance with Standards,Operational Integrity,Risk Assessment,Workforce InvolvementIndustry:ChemicalsCountry:United StatesLanguage:ENLoC:Overpressure

Summary

On March 21, 2011, during calcium carbide production at the Carbide Industries plant in Louisville, KY, an electric arc furnace exploded, ejecting solid and powdered debris, flammable gases, and molten calcium carbide at temperatures near 3800°F (2100°C). Two workers died and two others were injured.

KEY ISSUES:
• FACILITY SITING
• NORMALIZATION OF DEVIANCE
• CONSENSUS STANDARDS

ROOT CAUSES:
1. Despite past incidents, neither the previous owners nor Carbide Industries identified that the control room should be relocated and cameras installed to better protect workers while they remotely monitored the furnace.
2. Carbide Industries issued 26 work orders for leak repair for water leaks on the furnace cover in the five months prior to the March 2011 incident, but continued operating the furnace despite the hazard from ongoing water leaks.
3. The company did not adequately address past explosive incidents, which normalized blows as routine events.
4. The company did not have a process safety management program in place that required the elimination of overpressure incidents in the furnace.


Image credit: CSB

Origin

CSBUS Chemical Safety Board

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