September, 2003

200301SepAll DayDust did this!Process Safety Beacon | Dust can be MUCH more than just a housekeeping problemLessons:Operational IntegrityLanguage:EN Origin: CCPS Document Type:BulletinTopics:Combustible Dust


Here’s What Happened:

This facility produced automotive insulation and handled combustible solids as a raw material. While a part of the plant was down for cleaning a thick cloud of dust was generated. It somehow ignited causing a pressure wave strong enough to disturb and suspend more dust. When this new dust ignited, it caused an even stronger secondary explosion. The result tragically, there were 7 fatalities, more than 30 people injured and the building was destroyed.

How Did This Happen?

• Employees did not understand the explosive hazards of dust. This dust explosion pentagon shows the components necessary for a dust explosion to occur:

fuel + oxygen + dispersion + confinement + ignition = EXPLOSION

• Dust control measures were inadequate and ignition sources were present.
• The first explosion may have been minor, but it caused dust on other equipment and hidden locations, such as building support steel, suspended ceilings, and duct work, to be air borne. When this second wave of dust ignited, it generated a much stronger explosion.

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CCPSCenter for Chemical Process Safety