Investigators determine three factors that caused deadly explosion at Geismar plant

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Friday, October 4, 2013 - 11:00am

A rupture in an off-line reboiler is responsible for causing an explosion at a Geismar plant that killed two people, investigators concluded.

The explosion happened at the Williams Olefins Plant on Thursday, June 13, 2013. According to the preliminary findings, there were three main factors that contributed to the massive explosion.

  • The unexpected presence of liquid hydrocarbons in the reboiler in standby mode
  • The introduction of heat into this standby reboiler
  • The pressure relief system was isolated from the reboiler which was in standby mode

“Williams is reviewing all findings associated with the incident to determine the necessary improvements in any future designs,” officials said in a press release. “Furthermore, the cross-functional team is conducting plant-wide studies that focus on improvements to relief system designs and is implementing further improvements to safety processes and procedures.”

Zachary C. Green, 29, of Hammond was killed during the initial blast. Nearly a 100 people were transported to local hospitals with various degrees of injuries. Over a dozen were listed as critical.

One day after the blast, a second worker, Scott Thrower, 47, passed away as a result of his injuries.

Several lawsuits have been filed in connection to the incident, creating the possibility for a class action lawsuit.

The company says it plans to continue to rebuild the plant, as well as its expansion which was in the process of completion when the blast occurred.


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