Fatal Chem Plant Blast Cause: Bad Equipment

Friday, February 5, 2016 @ 02:02 PM gHale

A faulty piece of equipment was the cause of an explosion that killed one and injured three at a Pasadena, TX, chemical plant, according to a report from the Harris County Fire Marshal’s office.

The plant, owned by PeroxyChem, would not provide updates about the accident that occurred Jan. 16.

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The fire marshal’s incident report said a piece of equipment blew off a vacuum truck during the Jan. 16 accident at the Pasadena plant of the Philadelphia-based company.
PeroxyChem officials said at a La Porte citizens advisory committee meeting Tuesday night an “active investigation” was ongoing and they could not take any questions about the incident or the investigation.

Pasadena fire officials said in the incident report the piece of equipment — originally attached to the vacuum truck — “suffered some sort of failure and blew off.”

The report does not detail what the equipment was or how it blew off the truck.

The explosion killed 63-year-old Rickey Giddens, who worked at several plants in the area as a contractor for Evergreen Industrial Services. He operated vacuum trucks, his family said. Evergreen owned the vacuum truck, according to the fire marshal’s report.

The report also said 1,000 gallons of a chemical called “Process Work Solution” spilled because of the explosion, though it does not elaborate on what chemicals make up the solution.

PeroxyChem’s Pasadena plant manufactures hydrogen peroxide, a common household item used as an antiseptic. At high concentrations, it can cause serious burns and explode if heated.

A Texas Commission on Environmental Quality spokeswoman had previously said the state agency is investigating the spill of a peroxide-and-oil mixture in connection with the incident.

The explosion was at least the 10th such incident in the greater Houston region since a toxic leak at the DuPont plant in La Porte in November 2014 killed four workers.

Since then, at least two people have been killed and 18 injured amid explosions, fires and chemical leaks.

PeroxyChem employs about 600 people worldwide, with facilities in North and South America, Asia, and Europe, according to its 2014 annual report.

The fire marshal’s report said emergency responders decontaminated the three injured workers before they went to the hospital, though it does not specify what they were contaminated with. Giddens’ body was also decontaminated.

Fire officials found no “active leaks” during the initial investigation, according to the incident report.