Accident: Imperial Sugar Company Dust Explosion and Fire
Location: Location: Port Wentworth, GA
Accident Occured On: 02/07/2008 | Final Report Released On: 09/24/2009
Accident Type: Combustible Dust Explosion and Fire
Investigation Status: The CSB's final report was released at a public meeting in Savannah, GA on September 24, 2009.
On February 7, 2008, a huge explosion and fire occurred at the Imperial Sugar refinery northwest of Savannah, Georgia, causing 14 deaths and injuring 38 others, including 14 with serious and life-threatening burns. The explosion was fueled by massive accumulations of combustible sugar dust throughout the packaging building.
Incorporate combustible dust hazard awareness into employee and member companies’ training programs, such as the Safety and Health Management Systems training course. Include combustible dust characteristics, especially ignition energy and minimum explosible concentration; best practices for minimizing dust accumulation, especially on elevated surfaces; and safe housekeeping practices.
Add specific combustible dust inspection requirements and metrics to the Food Contact Packaging Facility audit procedures.
Actively promote improvements in combustible dust hazard awareness and control throughout the wholesale baking industry by publishing bulletins or safety guidance that address combustible dust characteristics including ignition energy, minimum explosible concentration, best practices for minimizing dust accumulation, and safe housekeeping practices.
Apply the following standards to the design and operation of the new Port Wentworth facility:
Conduct a comprehensive review of all existing Imperial Sugar Company sugar manufacturing facilities against the standards listed in recommendation R1 and implement identified corrective actions.
Implement a corporate-wide comprehensive housekeeping program to control combustible dust accumulation that will ensure sugar dust, cornstarch dust, or other combustible dust does not accumulate to hazardous quantities on overhead horizontal surfaces, packing equipment, and floors.
Develop training materials that address combustible dust hazards and train all employees and contractors at all Imperial Sugar Company facilities. Require periodic (e.g., annual) refresher training for all employees and contractors.
Improve the emergency evacuation policies and procedures at the Port Wentworth facility; specifically,
Proceed expeditiously, consistent with the Chemical Safety Board’s November 2006 recommendation and OSHA’s announced intention to conduct rulemaking, to promulgate a comprehensive standard to reduce or eliminate hazards from fire and explosion from combustible powders and dust.
Require member companies to:
Ensure that all risk engineers are trained in the hazards of combustible dust, and that refresher training occurs at regular intervals. Provide a copy of your combustible dust hazard awareness training materials to your clients who deal with combustible dust.