2016 Airgas Plant Explosion Final Report Released

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has issued its final report on the August 2016 explosion that killed one Airgas worker.  The report, issued today, concludes that a pump used to transfer liquid nitrous oxide from a strange tank to trailers likely overheated.  The increase in the temperature of the pump “initiated a nitrous oxide decomposition reaction” that resulted in the trailer exploding.

The report also stated that the safeguards in place were “poorly designed and ineffective.”  The Board also stated that the majority of rules and safeguards that apply to hazardous material plants did not apply to nitrous oxide production facilities.  The Board recommended that the industry develops and implements safety management system standards for nitrous oxide manufacturing as well as the distribution of increased warnings about nitrous oxide decomposition hazards.

The explosion in August 2016 took the life of 32-year-old Jesse Folmar.  The plant is still not in operation.

As a result of the explosion, Airgas was previously fined $12,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for failing to provide a safe workplace.

Airgas released the following statement after the report’s release:Nitrous Oxide Corp., a subsidiary of Airgas, Inc., appreciates the work of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) during the past months in connection with the August 28, 2016 incident at our Cantonment, FL nitrous oxide manufacturing location.  Nitrous Oxide Corp. associates and representatives have worked cooperatively over many months with representatives from the CSB and others to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.  Our top priority is the safety of our associates, customers, and the communities in which we operate. We deeply regret the tragic loss of life, damage and disruption caused by the incident.  Following the incident, Airgas began a comprehensive review of its nitrous oxide production facilities, trucking fleet, and filling operations. CSB’s recommendation to complete the development and implementation of the nitrous oxide business process safety initiative that Airgas is presently undertaking aligns with the company’s own goal to prevent any future incidents.  We look forward to continuing the safe production of nitrous oxide products for our customers.

See the full report here.

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