CSB Warns About Danger of Hot Work on Tanks Containing Biological or Organic Material

Chairperson Moure-Eraso cites an investigation in early August into one such example

CSB Chairperson Moure-Eraso has released a statement regarding the dangers of working in hot conditions on tanks containing biological or organic matter. His statement lists three serious hot work incidents that all involved fatalities:

On July 28, 2014, a tank explosion at the Omega Protein facility in Moss Point, Mississippi, killed one contract worker and severely injured another. The tank contained eight inches of stickwater, and the explosion blew the lid off of the tank.

Three workers were killed on July 29, 2008 at the Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) while performing hot work on a catwalk above an 80-foot-tall tank of “white water,” which is a slurry of pulp fiber waste and water. Hydrogen-producing bacteria were later discovered in the tank, and when this hydrogen gas ignited, it ripped open the tank lid, sending the workers to their death.

On February 16, 2009, a welding contractor was killed while repairing a water clarifier tank at the ConAgra Foods facility in Boardman, Oregon when a tank producing flammable gas exploded.

Moure-Eraso says that these tragedies underscore the “extreme importance of careful hot work planning, hazard evaluation and procedures for all storage tanks, whether or not flammable material is expected to be present.”

He then went on to say that companies should look to the changes the DuPont Corporation made as an example. After a hot work tragedy occurred at a DuPont chemical site, it instituted a series of reforms to hot work safety practices on a global basis, including requirements for combustible gas monitoring when planning for welding or other hot work on or near storage tanks or adjacent spaces.

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