Update on the CSB's Assessment into Fatal Explosion in St Louis, MO, US

Published:  10 April, 2017

The US Chemical Safety Board’s three-person investigation team arrived onsite at the Loy-Lange Box Company to begin its assessment on Thursday 6 April.

Since arriving on site the following activities and analysis have been conducted:

  • CSB investigators visited all three sites impacted by 3 April incident: 1) Faultless Linen; 2) Pioneer Industrial, and 3) Loy-Lange Box Company.
  • While early media reports were calling the equipment involved in the incident a ‘boiler’, the vessel that launched into the Faultless Linen building was a hot water storage tank also called a semi-closed receiver or SCR. This tank was part of a steam generator system that serves the same purpose as a boiler but is of a different design.
  • The SCR launched out of the Loy-Lange facility and into the Faultless Linen site, crashing into an office area. An initial examination found that the vessel appears to have landed top down into a room where three people were present.
  • The three people in the office room were fatally injured.

The structural integrity of the Faultless Linen office area is still being assessed. The failure mode of the SCR is unknown. Currently, it is too dangerous to enter the room to conduct an in-depth examination. The CSB has begun discussions with the appropriate entities on site to remove the equipment to allow forensic examination.

An initial assessment also found that an approximately 12.5-foot long pipe, which had been attached to the SCR, crashed through the roof of the Pioneer facility. It stuck in the roof and punctured an office ceiling, where it remained until the company removed it to temporarily re-roof the hole to protect the building from water damage.

Structural engineers retained by the CSB determined that the Loy-Lange site is not safe for CSB entry at this time. CSB investigators have photo-documented the perimeter. 

The CSB is coordinating its investigation efforts with local emergency responders and other federal agencies and investigative entities.   

CSB investigators are likely to remain on site for the next several days. Additional updates will be provided as the investigation develops. 

The CSB is an independent federal agency whose mission is to drive chemical safety change through independent investigations to protect people and the environment. The agency’s board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical incidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

 
CSB Chairperson Vanessa Sutherland said: ‘The CSB’s mission is to investigate and issue recommendations that promote safety at industrial facilities as well as for nearby communities.  As a result of Monday’s explosion, our team will be examining what if any safeguards were in place to protect the workers at the Loy-Lange Box Company, as well as for those in the adjoining building.’ 
  
The CSB is an independent federal agency whose mission is to drive chemical safety change through independent investigations to protect people and the environment. The agency’s board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical incidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

  • Operation Florian

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