Chemical Explosion at the Nonproliferation Test and Evaluation Complex

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Type:  Report - Gov

Publisher:  U. S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration - DOE

Published As:  Public


Topics:  Chemical Safety, Emergency Management, Environmental Protection, Occupational Safety and Health, Operations, Waste Management, Material Handling/Storage, Oversight

Accident Investigation Board Report August 2014

On June 13, 2014, a 55-gallon drum, believed by workers to be empty, exploded and resulted in non-life-threatening injuries to two personnel. The handling and storage conditions experienced by the drum that exploded were very conducive to peroxide formation. This drum, one of seven located at this site, had been in storage for an indeterminate period, with estimates ranging from 7 to 10 years. The storage location over this period was subjected to extreme heat during the summer months, reaching temperatures in the range of 120F. The drum lid had been left off for two days prior to the event, allowing some portion of remaining IPA in the drum to evaporate. Temperatures during this evaporation period exceeded 100F for most of the daylight hours, peaking near 110F. The interior of the drum was also exposed to direct sunlight for a portion of this evaporation time.

The development and effective implementation of both a comprehensive company-level Chemical Safety Lifecycle Management Program and a robust facility-specific Chemical Hygiene Plan would have prevented the event from occurring. An effective chemical management program consists of a "cradle to grave" methodology whereby the overall process is a cycle of interrelated elements, addressed in terms of the hazards posed by chemical usage. The process begins during the planning of work prior to acquisition and continues through the final disposal of the chemical.

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