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CSB Releases Animation of 2017 PCA Paper Mill Explosion

April 18, 2018

2 Min Read
CSB Releases Animation of 2017 PCA Paper Mill Explosion
Image courtesy of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) released an animated video this month illustrating the causes of an explosion at the Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) pulp and paper mill in DeRidder, LA on Feb. 8, 2017 that killed three workers and injured seven other people.

Taking viewers through a digital rendering of the Louisiana plant, the CSB’s video illustrates the agency’s position that hot work activities near a foul condensate tank containing a flammable atmosphere led to the deadly blast.

“Hot work accidents can be catastrophic.   This video animation demonstrates that a more robust hazard analysis is necessary when hot work activities are located on or near storage containers with volatile materials,” CSB Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said in a press release announcing the video.

The explosion was reported as the mill was engaged in a scheduled annual shutdown, which required workers to perform maintenance and upgrading tasks throughout the facility, according to the CSB.

As Powder & Bulk Solids reported at the time of the incident, police officials stated that welding work was happening when the explosion occurred. An anonymous tipper later told authorities that an unlocked automatic valve may have contributed to the cause.  

A final report on the CSB’s investigation into the incident is currently under review by the agency’s board members for approval.

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