Joint investigation under way at CF Donaldsonville, LA facility

18 June 2013 22:24  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--CF officials said Tuesday that company investigators along with officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are trying to identify the cause of a nitrogen distribution header rupture. The 14 June incident at the Donaldsonville, Louisiana facility killed one and injured seven.

The company said that one person remains hospitalized as of Tuesday afternoon and that other sections of the Donaldsonville Nitrogen Complex remain operational. At this time CF is not estimating when the joint investigations will be complete or how much damage was done at the accident scene.

“We cannot speculate on how long the investigation will take or how long it will take OSHA to file an official report on its findings. Our focus right now is on the health and safety of our employees, and we are committed to finding out the cause of the incident,” said Blythe Lamonica, CF spokesperson.

“CF is cooperating with investigators from OSHA, as well as conducting its own internal investigation of the incident, which includes third-party independent investigators.”

OSHA officials said the agency could not comment in regards to an ongoing investigation but said it has up to six months to complete its review.

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 fined CF approximately $150,000 for 14 alleged safety and health violations.

The latest accident occurred Friday evening in the Ammonia 3 unit that was undergoing a planned turnaround. CF said the distribution header, which receives nitrogen from tanker truckers and disperses to the rest of the plant, appears to have ruptured during the off-loading. There was no fire or explosion during the incident and no release of chemical, but a veteran employee was killed.

Company officials have identified the deceased as Ronald Morris, 55, who was a 34-year employee with the company. CF said that there was never any additional threat to the public from additional ruptures.

“The unit will remain down until CF can safely resume turnaround activities and gets authorization from those agencies involved in the investigation that it can resume turnaround activities. Ammonia 3 will restart once turnaround activities are completed. All other units at the Donaldsonville Complex are operating as scheduled and have been since the incident,” Lamonica said.

The unit is one of five at the plant and produced an estimated 1,600 tons/day (1,451 tonnes) of ammonia.


By: Mark Milam



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