WFC Explosion Case Study

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WFC Explosion Name Institution Affiliation(s) WFC Explosion 1. Hazard Definition/Description The West Fertilizer Company (WFC) explosion that occurred in April 17, 2013, is one of the most devastating industrial accidents in the history of the United States. The company was situated in the West City of Texas, and solely specialized in the distribution of farming supplies, such as grains and fertilizers (CSB, 2016a). The explosion involved fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate (FGAN), where ≈ 30 tons of it was detonated. In fact, the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB, 2016b) established that at the time of the incident, WFC had about 40-60 tons of the hazardous product at its disposal as shown in Table 1.…show more content…
Hazard Awareness and Prevention 4.1 Awareness 4.1.1 Public Perspective: To date, FGAN does not fall into the broad list of regulated substances stipulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (OSHA, n.d.). Since FGAN is unpredictably explosive, there is need for increased public awareness of hazardous substance-material exposure across the country. The location of such facilities should be clearly demarcated from both commercial and residential areas to minimize loss of lives and property in the event of an explosion (CSB, 2016a). 4.1.2 Firefighting Crew Perspective The CSB video has recognized attempts by the firefighting crew to establish a plan of action for containing an explosion that they were unfamiliar with (CSB, 2016a). To avert future incidents, the firefighting crew and workers within hazardous material facilities should enroll for the hazardous material (HAZMAT) awareness course. This would be vital to perfecting their recognition, awareness, and response to varied types of explosions as well as the ability to employ the appropriate notification protocols in the event of an explosion. 4.2 Preventive…show more content…
For example, unintended explosions can be minimized by placing the storage containers away from electrical connections and appliances. Instead of using wooden structures, metal hoppers and concrete bins may serve as safer substitutes for the storage of FGAN. In essence, the materials should be transported safely by eliminating the principal obvious sources of fuel such as combustible materials that may spark an explosion. Given that FGAN is a strong oxidant, untreated wood should never be used to fabricate storage structures for FGAN since it may accelerate the magnitude of detonation (CSB, 2016 p.104). Notably, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not restrict the use of wood in FGAN-storage bins (OSHA, n.d). Instead, the CFR 1910.109 standards for Blasting and Explosive Agents require that the containers should be shielded from FGAN impregnation. Thus, the likelihood as well as the subsequent magnitude of explosions can be minimized by using metal or concrete-lined bins. Moreover, contaminant-ignited explosions can be avoided by using containers lined with compatible metals or concrete, although the latter is highly preferred. 5. Personnel
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