CSB Releases Safety Video on Investigation Into Fatal Fire at Petrochemical Plant in LA

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The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has released a safety video of its investigation of the June 13, 2013 explosion and fire at the Williams Olefins Plant in Geismar, Louisiana, which killed two workers and injured an additional 167.  The deadly explosion and fire occurred when a heat exchanger containing flammable liquid propane violently ruptured.

The CSB’s newly released 12-minute safety video entitled, “Blocked In,” includes a 3D animation of the explosion and fire as well as interviews with CSB investigator Lauren Grim and Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland.

The Williams Olefins Plant explosion occurred on June 13, 2013 at a petrochemical plant located in Geismar, an unincorporated and largely industrial area 20 miles (32 km) southeast of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The explosion was triggered by the “catastrophic” failure of a heat exchanger. Two workers were killed and 114 injured.

The effects of the explosion were felt several miles away. Senator Troy Brown [D-Napoleonville], who was at his home five miles from the plant when the blast occurred, said, “For about a good two to three seconds, it felt like an earthquake.” A shelter-in-place order was issued to residences and businesses within a two-mile (3.2 km) radius of the plant.
The CSB’s investigation found many process safety management program deficiencies at Williams, which set the stage for the incident. In particular, the CSB found that the heat exchanger that failed was completely isolated from its pressure relief valve.

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