List of Historic Explosions - Atex Explosion Hazards
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List of Historic Explosions (Dust, vapour and Gas)


  • 1785 The earliest Dust Explosion recorded Giacomelli’s Bakery Italy. A boy had his face and arms scorched shovelling flour under an open flame. It blew out the windows and their frames into the street. Another boy saw the flame coming from across the warehouse and jumped off a scaffold and broke his leg. The accident was report to be due to the dryness of the corn as there had not been any rain for the last 5 to 6 months in the Piedmont area.
  • 1878 May 2, Washburn “A” Mill explosion Minneapolis, Minnesota, grain dust explosion, 22 Fatalities. Destroyed the largest grain mill in the world and levelled five other mills, effectively reducing the milling capacity of Minneapolis by one-third to one-half. Prompted mills throughout the country to install better ventilation systems to prevent dust build-up.
  • 1911 10th November, William Primrose and Sons Ltd operated a provender mill in Glasgow which exploded, killing 5 people including 3 children playing nearby. Their grinding process was very dusty and had no dust collection system. The room was lit by naked gas lights, and one was on such a long rubber hose that it could be moved around the room. Dust accumulations on the beams were not cleared adequately.
  • 1911 28th November, the premises of J Bibby and Sons in Liverpool, exactly two weeks after the Glasgow explosion, experienced the same fate, only this time the toll was 39 dead and 101 injured, figures hard to imagine in factories which today run with such minimal labour. Bibby’s were a more go-ahead firm, with electric lighting and a sprinkler system. They handled cotton cake and assorted meals. The machinery was belt driven, and the official report supposes that a dust cloud was formed when a belt broke. The ignition source was not possible to identify with certainty, but matches and electrical equipment were the most likely cause of the spark.
  • 1921 September 21, Oppau explosion in Germany. Occurred when a tower silo storing 4,500 tonnes of a mixture of ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitratefertilizer exploded at a BASF plant in Oppau, now part of LudwigshafenGermany, killing 500–600 people and injuring about 2,000 more.
  • 1921 Mount Mulligan mine disasterin Australia. These cable drums were blown 50 feet (15 m) from their foundations following a coal dust
  • 1930 July, 13 people were killed and 32 injured when part of the Hickson and Welch factory exploded. The blast left 300 houses nearby uninhabitable. Sadly the factory, which later became C6 Solutions, was the site of another deadly blast in 1992, when five workers were killed and 200 hurt. The plant closed for good in 2005.
  • 1930 Bibby’s managed it again in Liverpool, when an explosion in the top floor of a silo building killed 11 and injured 32. Rice flour, sunflower seeds and soya bean meal were used in the processes. Self heating of the sunflower seedcake seems to have been the cause of an initial fire, but the heat spread between silos, and initiated an explosion, when hanging dust fell, while an adjacent silo was being emptied. Among the recommendations was ‘the provision of recording thermometers on the silo
  • 1930, 13 people were killed and 32 injured when part of the Hickson and Welch factory exploded. The blast left 300 houses nearby uninhabitable. Sadly the factory, which later became C6 Solutions, was the site of another deadly blast in 1992, when five workers were killed and 200 hurt. The plant closed for good in 2005.
    1942 April 26th. Benxihu Colliery explosion China coal dust and gas explosion, 1,549 Fatalities, 34% of the miners working that day were killed. This is the world’s worst-ever coal-mining accident.
  • 1947 April 16, Texas City disaster, Texas. At 9:15 am an explosion occurred aboard a docked ship named the Grandcamp. The explosion, and subsequent fires and explosions, is referred to as the worst industrial disaster in America. A minimum of 578 people lost their lives and another 3,500 were injured as the blast shattered windows from as far away as 25 mi (40 km). Large steel pieces were thrown more than a mile from the dock. The origin of the explosion was fire in the cargo on board the ship. Detonation of 3,200 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer aboard the Grandcamp led to further explosions and fires. The fertilizer shipment was to aid the struggling farmers of Europe recovering from World War II.
  • 1948: A chemical tank wagon explosion within the BASF‘s LudwigshafenGermany site caused 207 fatalities.
  • 1970s a series of devastating grain dust explosions in USA grain elevators left 59 people dead and 49 injured.
  • 1971 February 3, The Thiokol-Woodbine Explosion at a Thiokol chemical plant in Georgia killed 29 people and seriously injured 50.
  • 1974 June 1, Flixborough disaster, England. An explosion at a chemical plant near the village of Flixborough killed 28 people and seriously injured another 36.
  • 1977 December, Galveston Grin elevator Explosion Texas 20 Fatalities
  • 1977 December 22, Westwego Louisiana Grain Elevator grain dust explosion 36 Fatalities 13 Injuries
  • 1997 Blaye in France, an explosion in a grain storage facility at the Société d’Exploitation Maritime Blayaise which killed 11 people & 1 injury. Six of the victims were found in the offices. The sudden nature of the incident and the close proximity of the silo to the offices meant that they had no time to react and their bodies were found at their workplaces. Significantly sized pieces of debris from the explosion were found up to 100 meters from the silo although one piece of breeze block, weighing approx. 10 kg was reported to have been discovered at a distance of 140m.
  • 1979 February 6,The (Roland Mill), located in Bremen, Germany, was destroyed by a flour dust explosion, killing 14 and injuring 17.
  • 1981 November 18, Bird’s Custard factory explosion Banbury United Kingdom corn starch dust explosion 9 injuries.
  • 1982, Grain Silos Metz France. News Report one day after the explosion 4 dead, 8 missing and one injured: ‘After clearing debris for 24 hours the toll is now known: four dead, one seriously injured and eight missing , they could possibly still be alive buried under many tons of beams and cement. A spark from a blow torch could have caused the catastrophe’ The concrete silos were 70m tall, held barley, and the report stated that “4 out of 10 cells in the complex were seriously damaged”
  • 1983 May 27, Benton fireworks disaster. An explosion at an illegal fireworksoperation on a farm near Benton, Tennessee killed eleven, injured one, and inflicted damage within a radius of several miles.[14]
  • 1983 July. The Aluminium Powder Co-operate, a plant in Anglesey which produces product by atomising molten aluminium into a stream of compressed air. The plant exploded on the injuring two men and causing very extensive on-site damage. This incident received much publicity because of the spectacular pictures that resulted
  • 1985 McKechnie Bros, killed one employee in a process which was intended to be inerted, but the instrumentation was unreliable. A ball mill exploded while it was being discharged.
  • 1987 March 17, Harbin textile factory explosion China, Flax dust explosion 58 Fatalities & 177 injuries.
  • 1988 July 6, Piper Alpha disaster. An explosion and resulting fire on a North Sea oil production platform killed 167 men. The total insured loss was about US$3.4 billion. To date it is rated as the world’s worst offshore oil disaster in terms both of lives lost and impact to industry.
  • 1989, Egger UK in Hexham. The combination of high powered grinders, and kilns drying chips and dust to a low moisture content make these plants dangerous. Almost all the manufacturers have experience of dust explosions at their plants. One employee died when a dust explosion spread through the plant and somewhere between 20 and 30 explosion vent panels opened inside the building.
  • 1989 October 23, Phillips Disaster. An explosion and fire killed 23 and injured 314 in Pasadena, Texas and registered 3.5 on the Richter scale.
  • 1990s North Derbyshire Metals Ltd had two explosions, causing major damage to their buildings. They operated a spray atomisation process similar to that run by Alpoco.
  • 1990 July 5, Arco Disaster. An explosion and fire occurred at the Arco Chemical Company complex in Channelview, Texas. 17 people were killed. Five were permanent employees of Arco Chemical Company and the remaining 12 were contract labour employees. An area approximately the size of a city block was completely destroyed; no one in the area survived the explosion.[24]
  • 1991 May 1, Sterlington, Louisiana. An explosion at the IMC-operated Angus Chemical nitro-paraffin plant in Sterlington, Louisiana killed eight workers and injured 120 other people. There was severe damage to the surrounding community. The blasts were heard more than eight miles away.
  • 1992 Wolstenholme Bronze of Darwin a double fatality. One of these employees was just walking down the yard when a filter located at high level outside exploded.
  • 1998 September 3,: 1998 Haysville KN grain elevator explosion in Haysville, Kansas. A series of dust explosions in a large grain storage facility resulted in the deaths of seven people.[12]
  • 2000 May 13, Enschede fireworks disaster. A fire and explosion at a fireworks depot in Enschede, Netherlands resulted in 22 deaths and another 947 were injured. About 1,500 homes were damaged or destroyed. The damage was estimated to be over US$300 million in insured losses.
  • 2001 September 21, Toulouse, France. An explosion at the AZF fertilizer factory killed 29, injured 2,500, and caused extensive structural damage to nearby neighbourhoods.
  • 2002 Sonae built a new plant at Kirkby, Merseyside and they placed vented silos and other vented equipment inside the building. That exploded knocking over an internal wall, and injuring one employee. They were prosecuted in 2006, and a £70,000 fine imposed in Liverpool Crown Court. Now closed.
  • 2004 May 11, the ICL Plastics factory (commonly referred to as Stockline Plastics factory), in the Woodside district of Glasgow in western Scotland, exploded. Nine people were killed, including two company directors, and 33 injured, 15 seriously. The four-storey building was largely destroyed. The Cause was a corroded LPG tank leak, the gas explosion may have caused a potential dust explosion. HSE indicated that the explosion was due to an ignition of gas released by a leak in a pressurised petroleum gas pipe. Failing to maintain pipes carrying hazardous gas Failure to ensure the safety of staff and visitors. Failing to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments
  • 2004 November 3, Seest fireworks disaster. N. P. Johnsens Fyrværkerifabrik fireworks factory exploded in Seest, a suburb of KoldingDenmark. One fire-fighter died; seven from the rescue team as well as 17 locals were injured. In total 2,107 buildings were damaged by the explosion, with the cost of the damage estimated at €100 million.
  • 2005 March 23, Texas City Refinery explosion. An explosion occurred at a BP refinery in Texas City, Texas. It is the third largest refinery in the United States and one of the largest in the world, processing 433,000 barrels of crude oil per day and accounting for three percent of that nation’s gasoline supply. Over 100 were injured, and 15 were confirmed dead, including employees of Jacobs, Fluor and BP. BP has since accepted that its employees contributed to the accident. Several level indicators failed, leading to overfilling of a knockout drum, and light hydrocarbons concentrated at ground level throughout the area. A nearby running diesel truck set off the explosion.
  • 2005 December 11, Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal fire. A series of explosions at the Buncefield oil storage depot, described as the largest peacetime explosion in Europe, devastated the terminal and many surrounding properties. There were no fatalities. Total damages have been forecast as £750 million.
  • 2008 February 1, Istanbul fireworks explosion. An unlicensed fireworks factory exploded accidentally, leaving by some reports at least 22 people dead and at least 100 injured
  • 2008 February 7, The 2008 Georgia sugar refinery explosion in Port Wentworth, Georgia, United States. Thirteen people were killed and 42 injured when a dust explosion occurred at a sugar refinery owned by Imperial Sugar.
  • 2009 October 19, Ottawa, Canada. A boiler explosion at the Cliff Central Heating and Cooling Plant killed one person, and three others suffered injuries.[25]
  • 2012 January 20, Burns Lake, British Columbia, Canada. At a wood mill two workers were killed and 20 others injured in a fire and explosion. A combustible dust environment led to the explosion and fire.[26]
  • 2013 April 17, Fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. An explosion occurred at the West Fertilizer Company storage and distribution facility in West, Texas, 18 miles (29 km) north of Waco, while emergency services personnel were responding to a fire at the facility. At least 14 people were killed, more than 160 were injured and more than 150 buildings damaged or destroyed.
  • 2013 June 20, Coteau-du-Lac, Quebec, Canada. Two women were killed in a fireworks warehouse explosion.[28]
  • 2014 May 13, Soma mine disaster in Manisa ProvinceTurkey. An explosion occurred two kilometres below the surface, starting a fire, which caused the mine’s elevator to stop working. This trapped several hundred miners, many of whom died of carbon monoxide poisoning. 787 workers were present during the disaster, and 301 of them died.
  • 2014 August 2, Kunshan explosion China Metal powder explosion 146 Fatalities and 114 injuries.
  • 2015 June 27, New Taipei Taiwan coloured starch powder 10 fatalities 490+ injuries. Explosion when Holi-like colour powder was released at an outdoor music and colour festival at the Formosa Fun Coast.
  • 2015 July 17 Bosley near Macclesfield in Cheshire. Four people trapped under rubble eventually retrieved dead and four others are taken to hospital after three explosions at a wood treatment works
  • 2015 August 12, Binhai, Tianjin, China. Two explosions that killed over 100 people and injured hundreds within 30 seconds of each other occurred at a container storage station.



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