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Hazards Uncovered – Looking at the Packaging Corporation of America Explosion.

5th February 2020

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Packaging Corporation of America Hot Work Explosion

On Wednesday, February 8, 2017, at approximately 11:05 am, a foul condensate tank, part of a non-condensable gas system, exploded at the Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) containerboard mill in Louisiana, America.

The explosion killed three people and injured seven others. All 10 people were working at the mill were contractors at the time of the explosion. The explosion also heavily damaged the surrounding process. The foul condensate tank travelled approximately 375 feet and over a six-story building before landing on process equipment.

At the time of the incident, the mill was undergoing its annual planned maintenance outage, also referred to as a shutdown. The foul condensate tank likely contained water, a layer of flammable liquid turpentine on top of the water, and an explosive vapor space containing air and flammable turpentine vapor.

Contractors supporting the annual outage work made repairs by welding, (a type of hot work) on water piping above and de-coupled (disconnected) from the foul condensate tank. This hot work appears to be the probable source of ignition, although other possible ignition sources could not be definitively excluded.

These kinds of incidents could have been prevented if the contractors on the site had received the correct process safety training. Furthermore, in conjunction with the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB), employers in the UK can access funding towards this course as well.

You can access £150 per delegate per day towards a place on an open HMF course, or towards an in-house course with the ECITB funding support grant.

The Hazard Management Foundations course is designed for managers, supervisors, designers, safety personnel, and senior contract employees working within engineering, construction and supply chain. It is suitable for young engineers and anyone who would like to develop a more detailed understanding of process safety management.

The course is delivered by highly experienced Cogent assured trainers. A combination of presentations, case studies and group discussions are used to illustrate interpretations of hazard management requirements and demonstrate ways to develop and monitor an effective hazard management programme.

On completing the course participants will understand:

  • The benefits and key principles of hazard / process safety management
  • How to identify hazards and assess the risks associated with hazardous substances and plant
  • The need for effective measures to limit the consequences of a major accident and costly shutdowns
  • The importance of identifying suitable safety critical equipment, implementing key risk control systems and the importance of sustaining their effectiveness
  • How to apply learning from near misses
  • How to monitor performance to achieve continual improvement in process safety performance

You can find out more about this course by clicking HERE. Prevent loss of life and improve your process safety with Cogent Skills