CSB approves safety recommendations for gas purging

February 11, 2010

Days before an explosion during gas purging at a Connecticut power plant killed five people, the Chemical Safety Board approved urgent safety recommendations on gas purging at a public meeting in Raleigh, NC.

The recommendations (.pdf file), issued Feb. 4, stem from the agency's investigation into the deadly June 2009 explosion at the ConAgra Slim Jim plant in Garner, NC. Preliminary findings show the ConAgra explosion was caused by the accumulation of natural gas that had been purged indoors during the start-up of a new water heater, according to a CSB press release.

CSB recommends the National Fuel Gas Code -- published jointly by the National Fire Protection Association and the American Gas Association -- be changed to require venting purge gases indoors, approval from local officials before indoor purging, use of combustible gas detectors, training on odor fade and odor fatigue, and warnings against using odor alone to detect gases.

CSB has launched an investigation into the Connecticut explosion, the cause of which has not yet been determined.