Volume 85 Issue 20 | p. 31 | Concentrates
Issue Date: May 14, 2007

Unvented Solvents Led To Explosion

Department: Government & Policy

Trapped solvent vapors at a Massachusetts paint and ink factory led to an early-morning explosion on November 22, 2006, that injured 10 residents and damaged more than 100 homes and buildings up to a mile from the blast, says the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). In a preliminary report, CSB said the accident's "immediate cause" was plant owners CAI and Arnel's routine practice of turning off a solvent-ventilating system at the workday's end at the Danvers facility. The plant produced solvent-based stains, coatings, and printing inks. The board believes a 3,000-gal mixing tank had been left to stir overnight after being charged with powdered resin and flammable solvents, including heptane and propyl alcohol, while being heated by a steam piping system. The tank likely overheated, and with the ventilation system turned off, flammable vapors built up and eventually found an ignition source. The explosion's timing at 2:45 AM was "fortuitous," said CSB Chairman Carolyn W. Merritt, because workers and residents could have easily been killed had the blast occurred during the day. More information is available at www.csb.gov.

 
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society

Leave A Comment

*Required to comment