Inside a synthetic fibre factory, a leak estimated at 4,000 litres of acid solution, containing 200 kg of hydrocyanic acid (HCN), occurred within an acrylonitrile production unit. This leak was situated at the level of a pipeline running between a condenser and a separator on installations operating at 30° to 40°C under atmospheric pressure. The absence of a flange on a pipeline tap caused this accident. The investigation indicated that this condition was present throughout the week leading up to the leak. The tap had likely been plugged by t [...]
The lower part of a waste feed chute on a furnace (capacity: 28 tonnes/hr) at an incineration plant exploded. A technician was violently thrown and sustained serious injuries. Water under 3 bar of pressure cooled the base of the chute, which was exposed to radiation from the combustion grate (1000°C). To improve circulation, the chute was composed of 20 independent boxes with 2 metal sidewalls (16 mm on the inside, 8 mm outside) spaced 10 cm apart, isolated from the water circuit by 2 (inlet/outlet) valves and fitted with an air exhaust vent. Wi [...]
In the attic of a slaughterhouse, 2.2 tonnes of ammonia (NH3) intended for recycling back to the unit leaked onto a solenoid valve on the low-pressure return circuit of a ground beef freezer. Employees were evacuated for 24 hrs, 40 local residents remained confined to a 500-m safety perimeter, and 20 fire-fighters (including a chemical emergency squad) installed a water curtain. The leak was stopped in 2 hrs by closing a series of valves; premises were ventilated for 30 hrs. NH3 odours were noticeable up to 1 km away. A technician had to be hos [...]
A detonation occurred during the preparation of munitions destruction furnaces by a specialised firm at a military installation.
These operations, performed by a team of 5 professionals, consisted of preparing holes and filling them with munitions intended for destruction. A technician at the bottom of the hole removed the ordnance from crates (opening each crate, emptying its contents). Two co-workers were assigned to hand the technician full crates and recovered the empties at the edge of the hole. These two employees then placed the empty cra [...]
An extremely violent explosion occurred at 5:20 am inside a refinery operating normally; this blast, felt up to 30 km away, was followed by several others.
The internal emergency plan was activated at 5:45 and rescue teams called to the scene. The "red plan" was implemented at 6:15; 250 firemen dispatched from neighbouring industrial sites, cities and department were mobilised. The fire re-ignited at 9:50 am and was finally brought under control at 1:30 pm.
A very heavy toll was announced: 6 deaths and 37 injured, including a refinery employee in [...]
(résumé plus à jour) An explosion occurred around 10 am in the sewer line of Mexico's second largest city amidst a metropolitan area; this blast was followed by a series of explosions between 10:30 and 11:30 am. Then very early the next morning, two more blasts were set off, one of which in an industrial district. These explosions resulted from the ignition of gas accumulated in the 3.50-m diameter sewer collector pipes, buried 8 m below the pavement, subsequent to a hydrocarbon pipeline leak. The toll was devastating: 206 deaths, 500 disapp [...]
An explosion occurred around 1:00 am in a single-family dwelling. On their return from a trip, the homeowner by drawing hot water from a tap caused the water heater to turn on, causing ignition of the hydrocarbon vapours that had accumulated in the basement when the house was closed. The owner was slightly injured and the house completely destroyed.
Hydrocarbons had been found in the groundwater dating back to 1985; as of 1989, their presence led to the detection of odours in the town. Expert evaluations conducted since 1987 enabled identifying [...]
Within a refinery storage zone, the shell of a fragile 15,000-m³ tank (at the end of its filling cycle) containing 13,500 m³ of HTS residue (at 130°C) split open. The flow of HC then destroyed two other tanks (15,000 m³ each) located in the same retention basin. The wave submerged the dike walls and flooded a 8-ha area of the site. During this incident, pipes burst (including a GO pipe) or got repositioned. The absence of an ignition source prevented the outbreak of fire. Rerouting the flow into a stormwater basin and installing a floating [...]
At 6.10 am, a 3000 litre hydrogen gas tank dating back to 1939 (L=14 m, diam.=570 mm) exploded at 135 bar during hydrogenation in a chemical site. The technicians who witnessed the violent explosion followed by a red-orangey fire ball sounded the alert. The hydrogenation workshop was urgently shut down. The start of fire was quickly brought under control. The H2 station commissioned in 1986, located in an open underground pit with an asbestos cement roof assembly (L=16 m, B=5 m, depth= 4 m) and 20 m at the boundary of the site housed eight 1,00 [...]
At a pesticide manufacturing plant set up in 1969, a release of about 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) and other toxic gases continued for 2 hours during the night of 2nd to 3rd December, subsequent to a runaway reaction caused by the addition of water into a MIC tank. The consequences of this release were uncontrolled due to many safety systems being defective or shunted for purposes of lowering operating costs.
These toxic emanations led to a tremendous number of victims among the local population: between 3,000 and 25,000 deaths, and 170, [...]