Accident Description

Accident: Concept Sciences Hydroxylamine Explosion

Location: Location: Allentown, PA

Accident Occurred On: 02/19/1999 | Final Report Released On: 02/01/2002

Accident Type: Reactive Incident

Investigation Status: The CSB approved a Case Study on this incident on February 1, 2002.

On February 19, 1999, a process vessel containing several hundred pounds of hydroxylamine exploded at the Concept Sciences Inc. production facility near Allentown, Pennsylvania. Employees were distilling an aqueous solution of hydroxylamine and potassium sulfate, the first commercial batch to be processed at the facility. After the distillation process was shut down, the HA in the process tank and associated piping explosively decomposed, most likely due to high concentration and temperature. Four CSI employees and a manager of an adjacent business were killed. Two CSI employees survived the blast with moderate-to-serious injuries. Four people in nearby buildings were injured. The explosion also caused significant damage to other buildings in the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park and shattered windows in several nearby homes.