Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Safety Board Says Dust Caused Fatal N.C. Blast. (Chemical Safety)

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Safety Board Says Dust Caused Fatal N.C. Blast. (Chemical Safety)

Article excerpt

The massive explosion that rocked the town of Kinston, N.C. last January killed six workers, injured dozens more and destroyed the West Pharmaceutical Services medical device factory.

Federal investigators from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) now believe they know what caused the explosion: the fine plastic powder used in the manufacture of rubber products that was trapped above a suspended ceiling. CSB investigators shared the preliminary findings of their investigation at a June 18 community meeting in Kinston

CSB Chairperson Carolyn Merritt, who presided at the session, said that CSB is "deeply concerned" by the Kinston event and a subsequent plant explosion in Corbin, Ky. that claimed seven lives.

"The dangers of explosive dust are not well known, and helping industry to understand this insidious hazard certainly will be a priority," she added.

The dust explosion occurred above an area where rubber strips were coated with moistened polyethylene powder, investigators told the audience at the Kinston High School Performing Arts Center auditorium. Although made from a plastic similar to that in milk jugs, the powder, when dry, is as fine as talcum and is capable of forming explosive mixtures in air, according to CSB test results made public at the meeting. …

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