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  • Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers Review Recent Article About Hazard Analyses & Prevention of Chemical Explosions

    By Peter M. Patton, Esquire

    Hazard analyses are important to prevent chemical explosions, a recent article in the Journal of System Safety highlights.   The article in the Journal focused on an explosion at the First Chemical Corporation in Pascagoula, Mississippi in 2002.  The explosion injured three workers, and damaged a number of buildings.  The explosion resulted as a result of the rupture of a distillation column used to separate chemical compounds by heating them.

    First Chemical used the column to produce a chemical known as mononitrotoluene.  What happened in the incident was that a leak in the isolation valves for the column caused heating of the column.  The heat caused the chemicals to vaporize and the pressure increase from the vaporized chemicals caused the column to explode, according to the U.S. Chemical and Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (“CSB”).

    First Chemical did not perform an adequate hazard analysis to determine hazards associated with the distillation process for the chemical.   First Chemical also should have included proper controls such as alarms to warn of the heating of the distillation column, interlocks to shut down the heat source, or protection against high pressure on the distillation column, according to the CSB.

    According to the article in the Journal of System Safety, this explosion shows the need for a formal review of potential hazards associated with processing of chemicals.   Without a formal system to identify hazards, a company can fail to identify hazards or implement controls of hazards, thereby creating the potential for explosions and other injuries.

    Galfand Berger products liability attorneys are familiar with the formal steps of identifying hazards in many different environments, including chemical plants.  They are experienced at investigating whether a defendant conducted a formal hazard analysis and showing what hazards a defendant failed to identify.  If you or a loved one has been injured in a chemical explosion, call the products liability attorneys at Galfand Berger in Philadelphia at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) or submit a free online inquiry.