Investigations with findings related to combustible dust:


Incident Description


Didion Milling Company Explosion and Fire


Incident Description:  On May 31, 2017, combustible dust explosions at the Didion Milling facility in Cambria, Wisconsin, killed five of the 19 employees working on the night of the incident. The other 14 were injured.  The investigation is ongoing.


Imperial Sugar Company Dust Explosion and Fire

Incident Description:  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.

US Ink Fire

Incident Description:  On October 9, 2012, at approximately 1:15 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST), a flash fire caused burn injuries to seven workers, including three who sustained third-degree burns, at the US Ink/Sun Chemical Corporation ink manufacturing facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Before October 2012, the facility used a wet scrubber system7 to collect particulate materials during the dry material charging stages of the ink mixing process. However, the scrubbing system deteriorated over the years. The new dust collection system was installed to improve the management of particulate material and produce an overall improvement in the operating conditions of the black ink production process. A flammable mixture consisting of hydrocarbons and combustible dusts accumulated in the ductwork during the start-up of US Ink’s dust collection system. The mixture spontaneously ignited leading to a series of events that caused a flash fire.

Hoeganaes Corporation Fatal Flash Fires

Incident Description: Three combustible dust incidents over a six-month period occurred at the Hoeganaes facility in Gallatin, TN, resulting in fatal injuries to five workers. At the third incident on May 27, 2011, the trench involved contained many pipes including nitrogen and hydrogen supply and vent pipes for band furnaces. In addition to housing the pipes, the trench also acted as a drain for cooling water used in the band furnaces. At the time of the incident, this water came out of the furnaces how and drained directly onto the pipes and into the trench. Hoeganaes did not regularly inspect the pipes in the trench. The design and maintenance of this trench, should have addressed the issue of slow corrosion over time caused by the hot water runoff and solids accumulation. Hoeganaes did not have a procedure to inspect piping within the trench to ensure that corrosion had not compromised the piping systems which would allow an uncontrolled release of hydrogen.


AL Solutions Fatal Dust Explosion


Incident Description:  An explosion ripped through the New Cumberland A.L. Solutions titanium plant in West Virginia on December 9, 2010, fatally injuring three workers. The workers were processing titanium powder, which is highly flammable, at the time of the explosion.

Combustible Dust Hazard Investigation

Incident Description: In 2003, the CSB launched investigations of three major industrial explosions involving combustible powders. These explosions - in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Indiana - cost 14 lives and caused numerous injuries and substantial property losses. The Board responded by launching a nationwide study to determine the scope of the problem and recommend new safety measures for facilities that handle combustible powders.  The CSB issued its final report at a public meeting in Washington, DC, on November 9, 2006, calling for a new OSHA regulatory standard designed to prevent combustible dust fires and explosions.


West Pharmaceutical Services Dust Explosion and Fire

Incident Description:   On January 29, 2003, an explosion and fire destroyed the West Pharmaceutical Services plant in Kinston, North Carolina, causing six deaths, dozens of injuries, and hundreds of job losses. The facility produced rubber stoppers and other products for medical use. The fuel for the explosion was a fine plastic powder, which accumulated above a suspended ceiling over a manufacturing area at the plant and ignited.

CTA Acoustics Dust Explosion and Fire

Incident Description:  On February 20, 2003, an explosion and fire damaged the CTA Acoustics manufacturing plant in Corbin, Kentucky, fatally injuring seven workers. The facility produced fiberglass insulation for the automotive industry. CSB investigators have found that the explosion was fueled by resin dust accumulated in a production area, likely ignited by flames from a malfunctioning oven. The resin involved was a phenolic binder used in producing fiberglass mats.

Hayes Lemmerz Dust Explosions and Fire

Incident Description:  On the evening of October 29, 2003, a series of explosions severely burned two workers, injured a third, and caused property damage to the Hayes Lemmerz manufacturing plant in Huntington, Indiana. One of the severely burned men subsequently died. The Hayes Lemmerz plant manufactures cast aluminum automotive wheels, and the explosions were fueled by accumulated aluminum dust, a flammable byproduct of the wheel production process.


Last updated May 9, 2018