Investigation continues into fatal rupture at CF Louisiana facility

17 June 2013 16:55  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigators and CF Industries (CF) on Monday were still investigating a rupture from a nitrogen vessel that occurred Friday evening at the Donaldsonville, Louisiana, Nitrogen Complex that left one worker dead and seven others injured.

In a statement released over the weekend, CF officials said the accident occurred at about 18:00 local time in a section of the plant that was down for maintenance and involved the rupture of a nitrogen distribution header during the off-loading of product. CF said no fire or explosion occurred and that there was no release of chemical.

CF officials did not immediately respond to a request for further information on Monday morning.

Louisiana State Police officials have said nitrogen was being discharged via a hose from an 18-wheeler truck into a pressurized metallic vessel when it appears that the container became overloaded and ruptured, causing a blast that sent pieces of metal scattering.

Company officials have identified the deceased as Ronald Morris, 55, who was a 34-year employee with company. The last update listed those who were injured in the accident as being in fair or stable condition.

“CF Industries has activated an Employee Assistance Program for our employees and their families to assist them in this difficult time,” said Lou Frey, complex general manager. “We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our employees.”

Frey said that the plant facility was secure and that there was never any public threat from the release of chemicals or additional ruptures.

Friday's accident was the second accident in as many days within Ascension Parish, located between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. On 13 June, an explosion at the Williams Olefins plant in Geismar resulted in two fatalities and numerous injuries.

Late last week, the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) said it was sending an investigative team over the weekend to start a review of the accident scene. At this time a cause has yet to be determined at the Williams explosion.

“There is no significance. They’re actually two different types of industrial accident, unfortunately it was in the same parish and within two days of each other,” said Louisiana State Trooper Jared Sandifer.

One possible cause being investigated at Donaldsonville is that there was a complete failure of the manifold used to distribute gases to the facility. The facility produces approximately 5m tons of nitrogen each year as well as ammonia and urea and is currently slated for expansion.

This is not the first fatality at the plant, as three workers were killed and nine injured in May 2000 as a result of an explosion and subsequent fire. OSHA eventually fined CF approximately $150,000 (€112,500) for 14 alleged safety and health violations.

($1 = €0.75)


By: Mark Milam



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