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 crates on a trailer. It seems that the accident occurred while the technician in the hole was opening a crate of M42 grenades; the furnace bottom had already been filled with the contents of several crates of grenades and amplifiers. Several other furnaces had already been assembled. Apparently, the quantities allocated to the various destruction furnaces had been exceeded.

The near instantaneous detonation of all objects in the furnace likely occurred during a shock when emptying the contents of a crate on a grenade whose pyrotechnic chain had been aligned (the product design allowed for this configuration). The pressure wave knocked the technician at the bottom of the hole more than 58 m over a row of trees; he died instantly. The other 4 technicians were all injured, 2 of whom seriously. A crater formed; burst fragments were trapped by the ground; the tractor and its trailer sustained damage; and the door on a passenger vehicle was torn off.

The mine clearance squad exploded the other cells loaded with munitions.

The investigation revealed many instances of regulatory noncompliance relative to pyrotechnic safety, notably the absence of a risk analysis specific to the operations underway, as well as the lack of a safety report or formal technician training.

The activity was suspended by Prefecture decree on 10th June, 1996 and the site placed in judicial liquidation.

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