Chemical Safety Board Reports

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This research paper provides a summary of two explosions investigated by the Chemical Safety Board. The first event was a titanium and zirconium dust explosion that occurred at AL Solution titanium Plant in 2010. The second event is an anhydrous ammonia release that happened at the Millard Refrigerated Services in the same year. The findings of each investigation are provided below. All the information is taken from official reports from the site of the Chemical Safety Board. The above mentioned cases were thoroughly analyzed and compared according to the following characteristics: involved chemicals, underlying hazards, causes and recommendations given by the Chemical Safety Board.

Literature Review

The current work is based on two reports of the Chemical Safety Board. The first report (AL Solutions) was prepared on the background of titanium and zirconium dust explosion at New Cumberland on 2010 (U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, 2014). It contains information concerning causes of the case, running of the accident, its consequences and recommendations of the Chemical Safety Board. The second report of specialists of the Board describes the investigation of an anhydrous ammonia release at the Millard Refrigerated Services Plant (U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, 2015). Key Lessons for Preventing Hydraulic Shock in Industrial Refrigerating Systems contains analysis of the event’s causes, description of the release’s process, caused damage to human health and recommendations for minimization of the possibility of a similar catastrophe in future.


Used literature was obtained from the site of the Chemical Safety Board. Information from two reports was thoroughly studied, analyzed and compared. Qualitative analysis made on the non-qualitative data was used for preparation of the current work. This research paper is considered relevant, as it is based on the official investigations. Provided information summarizes and compares two industrial explosions which cause damage to human health. Recommendations developed on the performed analyses are directed on elimination of repeating of similar cases in future.

Analysis of the Events

The current work provides short summary and analysis of two industrial explosions which took place on the territory of the USA in 2010. Both events endangered people’s lives and caused harm to their health. However, the explosion of titanium dust lead to death of three persons, when anhydrous ammonia release endangered health of about 200 people (U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, 2015). Detailed description of these cases will be provided below.

The first event took place in New Cumberland on November 12, 2010 at AL Solution titanium Plant (U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, 2014). The manufacturing process was based on milling and blending of metals. The obtained powder was pressed into dense discs. Hence, the air in the manufacture workshop contained considerable amount of concentrated metal dust. The day before the explosion some mechanical problems occurred at metal blender. This equipment was not sufficiently repaired and produced heat and sparks. One of this sparks caused ignition of zirconium powder inside the blender. This burning metal dust cloud ignited the dust in the air of the workshop. The secondary explosion of titanium and zirconium dust lead to death of 3 workers and injured a contract employee (U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, 2015). The factory building was also damaged.

The second industrial explosion described in this paper occurred at the Millard Refrigerated Services in Theodore on August 23, 2010 (U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, 2015). After the loss of power and the shutting down of refrigerating system for more than seven hours, personal interruption of one of the employees caused system’s failure. It did not recognize that the process of evaporation has started. Liquid ammonia with low temperature was fed back into the evaporator coils. Consequently, this liquid got mixed with the high pressure ammonia gas. Condensation of the gas caused creation of vacuum inside the system. The liquid ammonia with high density caused the hydraulic shock. One of the evaporator pipes of the freezing system cracked. More than 30,000 of ammonia were released into the environment. It lead to considerable harm to health of 189 people (153 people exposed toxic anhydrous ammonia, 32 persons required hospitalization and 4 people were admitted to an intensive care unit) (U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, 2015).

Obtained Results and Discussion

Both industrial explosions were caused by substances which are dangerous to people’s lives. Titanium and zirconium were involved in explosion at AL Solution plant. Both metals have high flammability characteristics and can easily initiate from just one spark. Zirconium and titanium dust clouds explored because of considerable concentration of these chemicals in a confound area near the improperly working metal blender that produced heat and sparks. Unlike ammonia, parts of these substances which can flow in the air in the form of dust do not cause considerable harm to people’s health. At the Millard Refrigerated Services, the catastrophe was caused by hydraulic shock of the pipe due to the growth of pressure of ammonia substance. This raise of pressure happened because of mixing low temperature liquid ammonia and hot ammonia gas. Ammonia gas is lighter than the air and can spread on considerable territories and irate to the eyes and respiratory system. Unlike titanium and zirconium, this substance is not explosive.

One of the main causes of industrial explosions is human factor. At AL Solution titanium Plant, workers did not repair metal blender and owners do not follow dust requirements. At the Millard Refrigerated Services manual intervention leads to non – recognition of the process of evaporation by the system. That is why, minimization of influence of human factor is the similar feature of recommendations provided by the Chemical Safety Board. This can be obtained by development of special training materials and plans of actions and performance of constant trainings. These procedures will ensure that employees and contractors have clear understanding of the danger of titanium and zirconium dust and know how to act in emergency situations. The Chemical Safety Board recommended minimizing the influence of human factor at the Millard Refrigerated Services by lowering the manual interruption of automatically controlled working processes. It especially concerns the intervention of unauthorized workers.

Another similar recommendation is making necessary amendments into the equipment and processes for minimization of the possibility of any catastrophe. Owners of AL Solution titanium Plant should make necessary changes in order to ensure that the existing equipment and processes correspond to appropriate chapters of NFPA. Managers and owners of the Millard Refrigerated Services should program the control system to automatically remove contents from the evaporator after any unintended interruption. Moreover, any emergency situations connected with uncontrolled release of anhydrous ammonia should be followed by emergency shutdowns. The whole refrigerating system of the plant should be changed for decreasing the possibility of hydraulic shock of any of its components.


Both industrial catastrophes were caused by human factor and existing loose ends in the used equipment and processes. Consequently, recommendations developed by the Chemical Safety Board are directed on minimization of similar explosions and releases in future. Above information shows that notwithstanding the fact that recommendations developed after these two industrial explosions have similar aims, their contents are different. It is connected with the distinctions of characteristics of the involved chemicals, nature of the performed operations, and factors which caused the above mentioned cases. However, the main similar feature of the titanium dust explosion and the anhydrous ammonia release is that these cases could be prevented and harm to people’s health could be averted if the appropriate procedures were applied (like following dust requirements and awareness of employees in the first case, avoidance of manual interruption and better system design in the second event).


To sum it up, the current essay provides general overview of the titanium and zirconium dust explosion at AL Solution titanium Plant and anhydrous ammonia release at the Millard Refrigerated Services in 2010. Reports of investigations held by the Chemical Safety Body show that these events have numerous similarities. They are caused by human factors and existing shortcomings in working processes. Chemicals used in both cases are dangerous to human life. Hence, additional guidelines should be followed and measures should be taken for minimization threat to human life. Both events caused harm to human health and killed people. The Chemical Safety Body developed special recommendations directed on minimization the possibility of similar cases in future. Proposed actions contain development of special guidelines for employees for increasing their awareness concerning the properties of hazardous materials and actions which should be performed during the working process and emergency events. Also, these recommendations include avoidance of manual interruption of the working process (especially of unauthorized workers) and improved of used equipment and processes. The titanium and zirconium dust explosion and anhydrous ammonia release could be avoided if necessary preventive measures and actions were taken on time.

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