Washington, DC, February 9, 2017 – A three-person investigative team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is deploying to the scene of an incident that killed three workers and reportedly injured seven on Wednesday, February 8 at the Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) plant in DeRidder, Louisiana.
According to initial reports, the explosion took place while contractors performed welding on a tank during a facility shut down. The explosion was powerful enough to cause the tank to fly and land in a different area of the plant. Welding is one of several types of “hot work” – or spark-producing operations – that can ignite fires or explosions. Most hot work incidents result in the ignition of combustible materials or the ignition of structures or debris near the hot work.
“The CSB has investigated many hot work accidents across the country, including a 2008 explosion that killed three workers at a different PCA plant in Tomahawk, Wisconsin.” said Chairperson Vanessa Sutherland. “Hot work incidents are one of the most common causes of worker deaths we see at the CSB, but also one of the most readily preventable.”
Following the deadly 2008 explosion at the PCA plant in Wisconsin, the CSB issued a safety bulletin on the hazards of welding and other hot work entitled “Seven Key Lessons to Prevent Worker Deaths during Hot Work In and Around Tanks.” The agency also released a safety video called “Dangers of Hot Work,” which presents the findings from that bulletin.
Chairperson Sutherland said, “The CSB continues to be concerned about the frequency of dangerous hot work incidents and has added safe hot work practices to the agency’s Drivers of Critical Chemical Safety Change Program, a list of key chemical safety advocacy initiatives.”
The CSB is an independent federal agency whose mission is to drive chemical safety change through independent investigations to protect people and the environment. The agency’s board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical incidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.
DERIDDER, La –
The three men who died in an explosion at a DeRidder paper mill have been identified.
According to the Beauregard Sheriff’s Office, the dead are: William Rolls Jr., 32; Jody L. Gooch, 40; and Sedrick Stallworth, 42.
A spokesman said Rolls is from Louisiana, but he’s not certain which town. Gooch is from Texas. He said they have not been able to verify Stallworth’s hometown. All three men were contractors working at the plant.
A spokesman for State Police said that six of the seven people injured in the explosion have been released from hospitals. Those six sustained what authorities described as minor injuries. One person, who sustained moderate injuries, remains hospitalized Thursday, State Police said.
A tank at the Packaging Corporation of America exploded Wednesday morning while three contractors were working on it, State Police said.
PCA issued a statement late Wednesday:
“At approximately 11:10 am CST, Wednesday, February 8th, there was an explosion at our DeRidder, LA paper mill. The incident involved annual repair work being performed on piping in the pulp mill area and resulted in three contractor fatalities. The cause of the incident is under investigation.
Our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of the people working on our site. The top priorities at this time are the notification of families of the deceased contractors and investigation of the incident with authorities.
At the time of the incident, the D1 machine was down for its annual outage and the D3 machine was running and continues to operate. The current assessment indicates that the annual outage work is expected to be delayed by up to one week and the mill will then resume full operation. Further information will be provided, as appropriate, when it becomes available.”
An explosion at a plant in western Louisiana killed three people and injured at least seven others Wednesday, officials said.
The explosion of a 25-foot tall tank at the Packaging Corporation of America, an old paper mill, happened shortly after 11 a.m., said Chief Deputy Joe Toler of the Beauregard Sheriff’s Office.
He confirmed the deaths of three employees. An unaccounted for person reported earlier has been located and is safe.
Shortly before 3 p.m., Acadian Ambulance spokesman Randall Mann said seven people were transported by AASI, two by air. He had no information on the severity of their injuries. Three were transported to the hospital in DeRidder; one has since been treated and released.
Six injuries are described as minor and one as moderate.
The cause of the blast was not immediately clear.
“There was work being done by contractors here at the plant,” said a state police spokesman.
Contractors are among the deceased, the trooper said.
“It was a violent explosion,” he said.
“There are some families right now that are hurting and they need your thoughts and prayers,” said the PCA human resources director in a brief, emotional statement to media.
The Lake Forest-Illinois-based PCA acquired the old Boise paper mill in 2013. The plant is located on U.S. 190.
The rest of the plant is still operating.
Learn more about this by reading our article: Hot Work as an Ignition Source