Washington, DC, October 7, 2009 – The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) today released a new nine-minute safety video
on the combustible dust explosion at the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Georgia, which claimed the lives of 14 workers, injured 36, and caused extensive property damage on February 7, 2008.
Entitled “Inferno: Dust Explosion at Imperial Sugar
,” the video includes a new four-minute 3-D computer animation depicting the first explosion – known as a “primary event” – that likely occurred inside a recently enclosed sugar conveyor, which was followed by massive secondary dust explosions that destroyed the plant’s sugar packing buildings.
As CSB Chairman John Bresland noted in the video, “The accident at Imperial Sugar was the deadliest industrial dust explosion in the United States in decades. It illustrates the extremely serious nature of combustible dust hazards.”
The CSB’s final report on the accident was approved at a public meeting in Savannah on September 24, 2009. At the meeting
the CSB recommended that OSHA move forward expeditiously with a new combustible dust standard, as the CSB first recommended in 2006, and urged Imperial Sugar and several trade associations to take other actions to reduce the hazard.
CSB investigators determined that the explosion resulted from ongoing releases of sugar from inadequately designed and maintained dust collection equipment, conveyors, and sugar handling equipment. Inadequate housekeeping practices allowed highly combustible sugar dust and granulated sugar to build up throughout the refinery’s packing buildings.
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.
The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website, www.csb.gov.