Animation of Explosion at PCA’s DeRidder, Louisiana, Pulp and Paper Mill

Animation of Explosion at PCA’s DeRidder, Louisiana, Pulp and Paper Mill


NARRATOR: FEBRUARY 8, 2017: THE PACKAGING CORPORATION OF AMERICA’S DERIDDER, LOUISIANA PULP AND PAPER MILL. AN EXPLOSION OCCURRED DURING HOT WORK ACTIVITIES KILLING THREE CONTRACT WORKERS AND INJURING SEVEN OTHERS. THE DERIDDER MILL PRODUCES CONTAINERBOARD THAT IS USED IN PRODUCTS SUCH AS BOXES AND CARDBOARD DISPLAYS. THE CONTAINERBOARD IS MADE FROM PULP PRODUCED AT THE FACILITY. DURING THE PROCESS OF CREATING PULP, VAPORS ARE GENERATED. THESE VAPORS, WHICH CONTAIN WATER, TURPENTINE, AND VARIOUS SULFUR COMPOUNDS, ARE COLLECTED AND SEPARATED. TO SEPARATE THE VAPORS, THEY FIRST
ENTER A TURPENTINE-STRIPPING COLUMN. THERE, MOST OF THE TURPENTINE IS
REMOVED AND SENT TO A CONDENSER. THE REMAINING VAPORS IN THE STRIPPER CONDENSE TO A LIQUID CONTAINING MOSTLY WATER BUT ALSO RESIDUAL AMOUNTS OF
SULFUR COMPOUNDS AND TURPENTINE. THIS LIQUID IS KNOWN AS “FOUL CONDENSATE.” THE FOUL CONDENSATE IS SENT FROM THE STRIPPING COLUMN TO AN APPROXIMATELY 100,000
GALLON-CAPACITY ATMOSPHERIC STORAGE TANK, USED TO STORE THE LIQUID AT,
OR CLOSE TO, AMBIENT PRESSURE. THE FOUL CONDENSATE TANK IS PRIMARILY USED TO REGULATE THE FLOW OF LIQUID BETWEEN THE TURPENTINE-STRIPPING COLUMN UPSTREAM AND A DOWNSTREAM UNIT THAT REMOVES THE REMAINING SULFUR COMPONENTS FROM THE WATER. DURING THE FEBRUARY 8 INCIDENT, THE MILL WAS UNDERGOING ITS ANNUAL SHUTDOWN. THE SHUTDOWN REQUIRED MILL EMPLOYEES
AND CONTRACT WORKERS TO PERFORM MAINTENANCE, INSPECTION, AND
UPGRADE TASKS THROUGHOUT THE FACILITY. ONE OF THESE TASKS WAS THE
REPAIR OF WATER PIPING LOCATED ABOVE AND CONNECTED TO THE FOUL CONDENSATE TANK THAT HAD SHIFTED AND CRACKED MONTHS EARLIER. THE REPAIR REQUIRED WELDING ON THE PIPING, COMMONLY REFERRED TO AS “HOT WORK.” IN PREPARATION FOR THE HOT WORK, VALVES WERE CLOSED LEADING INTO
AND OUT OF THE FOUL CONDENSATE TANK, WHILE 10 FEET OF LIQUID REMAINED INSIDE. THE LIQUID WAS LEFT WITHIN THE TANK PARTIALLY BECAUSE THERE WERE NO PLANS TO WORK DIRECTLY ON THE TANK DURING THE OUTAGE. THE COMPANY ALSO ASSUMED
THAT THE TANK CONTAINED MOSTLY WATER, WAS SEALED OFF FROM THE ATMOSPHERE,
AND DID NOT POSE A SAFETY RISK. THESE ASSUMPTIONS WERE, HOWEVER, INCORRECT. RESIDUAL TURPENTINE,
NORMALLY PRESENT IN FOUL CONDENSATE, COLLECTED ON TOP OF THE LIQUID IN THE TANK
DUE TO ITS DENSITY. THE FOUL CONDENSATE TANK WAS DESIGNED SO THAT BY CHANGING THE HEIGHT OF THE LIQUID LEVEL INSIDE THE TANK THE RESIDUAL TURPENTINE WOULD BE SKIMMED OFF AND SENT TO A TURPENTINE RECOVERY SYSTEM. BUT IN THE MONTHS LEADING UP TO THE INCIDENT THE TURPENTINE WAS NOT REMOVED BECAUSE THERE WAS CONFUSION
AS TO WHO AT THE MILL WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR OPERATION
OF THE FOUL CONDENSATE TANK. DUE TO THIS CONFUSION, A VALVE DESIGNED TO DIRECT SKIMMED TURPENTINE TO THE MILL’S TURPENTINE RECOVERY
SYSTEM REMAINED CLOSED FOR MONTHS. AS A RESULT, LEADING UP TO THE
INCIDENT MORE FLAMMABLE TURPENTINE WAS PRESENT IN THE FOUL CONDENSATE TANK
THAN ANYONE EXPECTED. IN ADDITION, THERE ARE NORMALLY VAPORS INSIDE THE FOUL CONDENSATE TANK
IN THE SPACE ABOVE THE LIQUID. ALTHOUGH THOSE VAPORS CAN BECOME FLAMMABLE, THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE KEPT AT A CONCENTRATION THAT IT IS TOO RICH TO BURN. BUT DUE TO THE NON-ROUTINE CONDITIONS
EXPERIENCED DURING THE ANNUAL SHUTDOWN, THE CONTENTS OF THE TANK LIKELY COOLED, CREATING LOW-PRESSURE WITHIN THE TANK. THIS MOST LIKELY TRIGGERED A RELIEF VALVE
ON THE TANK’S ROOF TO ADD MORE AIR TO AVOID DAMAGING THE TANK FROM THE VACUUM CREATED BY LOW PRESSURE. THE VACUUM RELIEF VALVE WAS
LIKELY ONE OF A FEW POTENTIAL SOURCES THAT ALLOWED ENOUGH AIR INTO THE TANK TO CREATE AN EXPLOSIVE ATMOSPHERE. IN PREPARATION FOR THE HOT WORK, THE WATER PIPING WAS ISOLATED
FROM THE FOUL CONDENSATE TANK AND THE REST OF THE PROCESS BY CLOSED VALVES, AND THE PIPING WAS SEPARATED PHYSICALLY FROM THE TANK. AROUND 8:00 AM ON FEBRUARY 8, A MILL EMPLOYEE USED A GAS DETECTOR TO CHECK FOR A FLAMMABLE ATMOSPHERE IN AND AROUND THE WATER PIPING AND FOUND NONE. AS A RESULT, THE COMPANY ISSUED A
HOT WORK PERMIT FOR THE WELDING WORK. BUT EVEN THOUGH A FLAMMABLE ATMOSPHERE
WAS NOT PRESENT OUTSIDE THE TANK, THERE WAS A FLAMMABLE ATMOSPHERE INSIDE THE TANK. WITHOUT KNOWING THAT THE TANK POSED A SERIOUS HAZARD, THREE CONTRACT WORKERS BEGAN WELDING
ON THE WATER PIPING LOCATED ABOVE IT. THE CSB WAS UNABLE TO DETERMINE
AN EXACT IGNITION SOURCE BUT IT IS LIKELY THAT SPARKS OR MOLTEN SLAG
PRODUCED FROM THE HOT WORK LANDED ON OR NEAR THE FOUL CONDENSATE TANK, HEATING UP THE TANK WALL OR
OTHERWISE IGNITING THE CONTENTS INSIDE. OR IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THE HOT WORK WAS COMPLETE BUT AS THE TOOLS WERE LOWERED, A WELDING TORCH FELL AND CREATED AN
ELECTRIC ARC ON THE TANK OR ITS VENT PIPING. REGARDLESS, THE CSB DETERMINED
THAT HOT WORK ACTIVITIES LIKELY IGNITED THE FLAMMABLE VAPORS
AND LIQUID TURPENTINE INSIDE THE FOUL CONDENSATE TANK. AT 11:05 A.M. THERE WAS A LARGE EXPLOSION. THE TANK SEPARATED FROM ITS BASE AND LAUNCHED UP AND OVER A SIX-STORY STRUCTURE, LANDING APPROXIMATELY 375-FEET AWAY. THREE PEOPLE WERE KILLED
AND SEVEN WERE INJURED. ALL WERE CONTRACT EMPLOYEES WORKING NEAR THE FOUL CONDENSATE TANK.

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100 Replies to “Animation of Explosion at PCA’s DeRidder, Louisiana, Pulp and Paper Mill”

  1. This paper mill unintentionally created their own water-propelled rocket launching program.

    What a magnificent, terrible, awe-inspiring, and horrifying sight such a large tank wildly flying through the air must have been to the survivors.

  2. To anyone out there about to go through Maintenance Day at their respective facilities, stay safe and alert out there.

  3. I noticed in the animation that there were no fire blankets in use. An oversite by the animators or actually no fire blankets were used.

  4. How far did it launch those workers above it? I devalved a propane tank once in a parking lot and it shot off like a rocket without igniting.

  5. I am a superintendent who lost a previous welder to this tragic but avoidable incident. He was the welder performing the Hot Work. 😞

  6. A design strategy reaction: N.Tesla came up with his valvular conduit, this can be toroidal and used vertically, the sections will divide by density, controlled temps.

    So, all that isn't captured by the existing process then will go through these to remove the remaining turps & separate the water at volume to far below the ability to ignite the goal.

  7. Narrator: At 11:05 AM there was a large explosion
    storage tank gets launched upwards
    Me: Is that an animation error? What was that Looney Tunes style crap?
    Narrator: The tank separated from its base and launched up and over a six-story structure

    Me: Oh, shit…

  8. Did anyone land on the top of the 6 story thing when it blew up or did they all just piss there pants once they realized they can’t fly

  9. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!
    It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a tank of flammable gasses!

  10. Really seems like they took sensible and solid precautions, systems were isolated fully, gas checks were made just before start both inside and outside of the welding area… Bad luck and unknowns bit them hard.

  11. I'm A Retired UA 342 Steamfitter Welder..21 years..I see so many things WRONG in this Video…Most Valves have Blinds or Plates between the Valves and Piping so there is no Leak by…Most Welding in the Air is done in a Fully contained Scaffolding with Tarps all around the sides and the Floor covered …The Drains on the Ground are Sand bagged and a Fire hose FOGGING the whole area below the welding…Where they showed the Small BALL VALVE there was no way to Isolate it at least not what I could see….The Guy with the SNIFFER..(it checks to see if there is anything explosive)needed to check the Tank and Break open the piping that needed Welding to see if it was Explosive…I sometimes had the Guy with the SNIFFER check the gas tank of a truck to see if the SNIFFER even worked… Some times they didn't or just needed Batteries….Let me see what else I can find….Where the guy is closing the Big Valve he says thier Isolating it…All the piping needs to be Isolated and Sniffed for Flammibals…When going to working a area where Sniffing has to be done work has to done in a certain time Frame.not stop working through lunch or break and then continue….I've seen fires that have burned the pipes so bad they Melted all the way to the Ground and this is At least 5 layers of piping..
    We worked in there for months…lol let's continue…

  12. When you see a fire burning from a Flair Stack this is a Good thing….
    I've seen these Fires Blow and they'll Blow and Ignite the man hole covers in the morning….every Dangerous

  13. First off, prayers for those poor workers. Second, why did they not use workers from the company? People who work there might have known better since they would have been familiar with what was in the tank. I'm sure the contract guys had no idea, since they were there to weld pipe. Sadly, companies use contract workers all the time, and why is that? Because the professional guys at the company are to expensive. Hire contract workers for half the price. Sad but very true. I have nothing against the contract guys, they are just trying to make a living. But the higher-ups know that for the most part they can get contract workers to do stuff the regular guys would say no to. When you know your work area well, you know the trouble spots. You know what does what. These poor guys died so the company could save money. You can't tell me a plant of this size has no welders on the payroll!

  14. All I could think about when that tank flew was: WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

    Kaboom!!!

  15. In my day, when Eisenhower was president, we would just dump all that foul stuff in the river….problem solved. We killed all the fish and birds and everybody had cancer but who cares. Good times.

  16. Thank you for your excellent illustration of this terrible accident. God bless the souls of the contract workers.🕊🌹
    They need valves / detectors that can detect what’s going on inside the tank & pipes.

  17. "The company also assumed the tank contained mostly water, was sealed off from the atmosphere, and did not post a safety risk…" That is an awful lot of assuming, even more so considering the materials involved and the type of work being done.

  18. That welding torch couldn't have ignited the vapors, because the tank is most likely metal. The electricity acts like water and takes the path of least resistance. Because of that, the metal tank acts like a faraday cage and prevents ignition. Unless its waved like this, ////

  19. History channel flashbacks
    I’m liking these videos

    No confusion I worked in the paper industry for 28 years.
    It was a it’s not my job to run that.

  20. That place fucking stinks, extremely bad, anytime you drive anywhere near it, you wish you didn't. Smells like death & sulfur

  21. Defunding The Chemical Safety Board Is A Bad Idea And Likely To Increase Chemical Disasters
    Unfortunately, the 2019 budget proposed by the Trump administration zeros out funding
    for the USCSB. Its requested fiscal-year funding, $12 million, is
    modest for a government agency. Likewise, the 2018 budget also proposed to defund the USCSB.
    This sustained effort reflects an ongoing de-emphasis on chemical
    safety – as a second example, Environmental Protection Agency
    Administrator Scott Pruitt has indefinitely delayed bans on the use of three hazardous chemicals, shown to be toxic to human health.
    Chemical production is an essential component of modern society. This
    does not mean that there is not room to improve practices in
    manufacturing, storing, and shipping chemicals, and in ensuring the
    safety of those who work in or live near chemical plants. The vantage of
    an independent group is crucial for identifying those aspects that can
    and should be improved.
    Defunding the USCSB, which provides this indispensable independent
    perspective, is likely to hinder efforts to identify the causes of
    chemical accidents – especially in low-regulation locales.
    Moreover, it is also likely to worsen our ability to respond in
    previously unforeseen events, such as the heavy flooding of Harvey, that
    may be exacerbated by climate change. Finally, it is likely to cost lives in future incidents.

  22. Hemp makes better product and is not harmful to the environment during the process. Thank you hurst.

  23. Ingnition source the grinder id bet. After making those hot tie ins for 50 yrs. be my first guess. Check stuff yourself saftey man aint gona get his ass blowed up.

  24. What they don’t mention in the vid. Is that 2 of the men flew as high as the tank did. I was on the top floor of the building when the tank flew over. Unfortunately I live with the vision of the 2 men flying too

  25. Typical corporate bullshit. Poor practices and not knowing which hand they scratch their big fat ass with when it is time to eat a sandwich. Crap equipment and stupid people "in charge". Only interested in their bottom line and don't really have time to spend on the actual work itself. which could have saved those peoples lives.

  26. Jesus! were the guys still on the tank when it got airborne? At least they got to be astronauts for a bit.

  27. Damn dude, these people didn't get to go to there families that night because of laziness, and lack of concern. smh

  28. I got a dig bick
    2. You that read wrong
    3. You read that wrong too
    4. You checked
    5. You smiled
    7. You are wondering why you're still this reading this.
    8. You saw that mistake… right? (On 7)
    10. But did you see that I skipped 6
    10. You checked
    11. And saw you that I doubled 10 and skipped 9
    12. I said saw you, not you saw
    13. I also skipped 2
    14. You got tricked
    15. I'm just wasting your time go back and read other coments.

  29. No one cares about contract workers there wage slaves that they don’t have to pay life insurance policies and health benefits for them of course they would cause un safe work conditions if they didn’t die the company might possibly sue for negligence of them making their own unsafe work environment

  30. I hate paper plants. The one in Charleston South Carolina dumps tons of noxious fumes choking people DAILY. When the clouds descend with the poison vapors people are choked and your eyes burn. Driving to work can be dangerous when your lungs seize up on the freeway. But because the plant churns out millions, the people's health problems simply rise and the wildlife dwindles.

  31. Probably a union job, I’ve been in a union my entire working career and I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard assholes say “it’s not my job” and the company lets them get away with it

  32. "Nice.

    You can visit our YouTube Channel for 3D Animated Safety Video. Teach Do and Don't of any process to avoid accidents in the simple animation language."

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE2Squ-OYVQ

  33. Go ahead and rule out the welder touching the tank as the cause, for 2 reasons. First being the fact that they wouldn't lower a live welder. Second being that there was no ground at the tank for the welder to spark. The fault falls completely on plant management for improper shut down. It wasn't a new plant, so there should have been no confusion on who's responsible for supervising that area.

  34. Such a tragedy! Easy to be arm chair quarterbacks but it's apparent how many failures occurred during operations, preparing for shutdown and performing work. It seems obvious that workers / leaders know who is responsible for operating and maintaining equipment but there are situations where details are overlooked maybe due to hasty business situations, maybe management or shift assignment changes, re-organization/merging/dividing departments, budgeting, etc. When older facilities were built the engineering and layout of processes weren't always considered – think of a control room adjacent to electrical switchgear and hazardous material tanks next to the view window. Appears to be no measurement of level control, temperature, pressure of tank unless it was being ignored. I'm surprised the rest of the process was working properly if components of the waste stream were not going where they should have gone. There are core safety processes that were not utilized, such as energy isolation (lock/tag/try), line opening and breaking, hot work. Someone asked about how a weld tip could have ignited the mixture – static electricity. Someone mentioned they knew the welder, someone else observed 2 workers flying over the roof with the tank. Wow, just so sad. Being a safety professional I see so many things that could have prevented this from occurring.

  35. I used to work at a shipyard, now i work at a hotel alot safer and healthier because im not exposed to all the fumes, aluminium, shavings and other hazards…….fuck that!

  36. I remember a situation in a refinery. In one oven Hydrogen with app 3000psi was heated prior to a a hydrocracking unit. Somebody heard sounds from inside but since the planned shutdown was only few weeks ahead they kept operating it. Some days later in the night the loose hydrogen pipe inside cracked and the hydrogen exploded. Nobody injured. The oven was square before and looked like an apple after. They fixed the pipe, welded a refurbishment around the oven and operated it until the maintenance shut down.

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