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Inadequate housekeeping caused dust explosion

September 25, 2009
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WENTWORTH, GA — The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Board released a final report that claims the February 7, 2008, explosion at an Imperial Sugar Company refinery was caused by inadequately maintained equipment, according to Fort Bend Now.
According to the story, "inadequate housekeeping practices allowed highly combustible sugar dust and granulated sugar to buildup throughout the refinery’s packing buildings," leaving conditions ripe for a dust explosion.
On top of the $8.76 million in fines levied against Imperial by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 14 workers died and 40 more were injured in the preventable blast, the story stated.
Chemical Safety and Hazard Board Investigation Supervisor John Vorderbrueggen said: "Imperial''s management as well as the managers at the Port Wentworth refinery did not take effective actions over many years to control dust explosion hazards – even as smaller fires and explosions continued to occur at their plants and other sugar facilities around the country."
Cleanup and repair costs related to the explosion are estimated at $220 million, the story noted.
The Chemical Safety and Hazard Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations; those urged of Imperial include developing a dust training and housekeeping program and improving evacuation procedures, as well as complying with National Fire Protection Association practices for preventing dust fires and explosions, the story added.
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