PRELIMINARY results have been released by US safety officials investigating an explosion that killed one worker at an Airgas production facility in Florida on 28 August.
The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) said the explosion involved nitrous oxide tanks in the loading bay, where the incident is said to have taken place.
Vanessa Sutherland, chair of CSB offered “condolences to the family suffering this tragic loss”, adding that “the CSB’s accident investigation will determine the root cause of this fatal incident.”
The Florida State Fire Marshal told Chemical & Engineering News that there was a nitrous oxide holding tank and two tankers involved and that the focus of the investigation was to determine if the explosion originated with the holding tank and tankers, or started elsewhere and spread to them. The Chemical Engineer attempted to corroborate this information; however the marshal’s office is currently closed due to Hurricane Hermine.
Airgas makes nitrous oxide using gases supplied by the nearby plant operated by performance materials specialist Ascend. The company said its facility may have sustained some damage as result of the explosion; however it did not report any fatalities or injuries.
The investigation will be handed over to the US Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Airgas has been subject to 37 inspections by the federal body over the last five years resulting in 22 citations from 11 of the inspections.
Air Liquid completed its US$13.4bn purchase of Airgas in May.
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