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CSB issues report on fatal electric arc furnace fire

February 13, 2013

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Washington – Failure to investigate smaller incidents and putting off maintenance led to the March 2011 explosion that killed two workers at Carbide Industries in Louisville, KY, concludes a new report (.pdf file) from the Chemical Safety Board.

CSB traced the explosion to water leaking into the facility’s electric arc furnace and causing pressure to build until the furnace spewed its contents – debris, gases and molten calcium carbide – which were heated to approximately 3,800° F.

The furnace cover was scheduled to be replaced in May 2011, and in the five months prior to the incident, Carbide Industries issued 26 orders to repair furnace cover water leaks. The company’s failure to make appropriate changes led to the “normalization of deviance” – a gradual process by which abnormal events become accepted as normal, the report states.

In the report, CSB advises Carbide Industries to implement a mechanical integrity program for the furnace and the National Fire Protection Association to establish safety and inspection requirements for arc furnaces.

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