Tank Explosion at PCA Facility Kills Three and Injures Seven

Tank Explosion at PCA Facility Kills three and injures sevenOn February 8th, 2017, a tank explosion in the pulp-mill section of a Packaging Corporation of America facility, in DeRidder, Louisiana left three workers dead and seven others injured. This incident has prompted an investigation of the facility and circumstances revolving around the explosion. This investigation is currently ongoing and no proposed penalty or formal citations have been issued, of yet. The three employees who died in the incident, were, Jody Gooch, 40, of Newton County, William Rolls, 32, of Reeves, Louisiana, and Sedrick Stallworth, 42, of Houston. They worked for Pasadena, Texas-based, Elite Specialty Welding, LLC.

Preliminary information involving the tank explosion incident shows that it occurred as a result of a build-up of steam in the tank in question. A number of “hot-work” stations, including a welding-station, were in a close-enough radius to the explosion to be considered in the investigation. To this point, Chief Deputy Joe Toler, with the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office, and Deputy Chief Brant Thompson, with the State Fire Marshall’s office, have both stated that no fire has been identified as accompanying the explosion.

An initial statement from PCA stated that annual repair-work was being performed on piping in the pulp mill area when the tank explosion occurred.

Thompson said, “Indications at this time is that there was no fire. At this point, we have collected no evidence that there was a fire or flash fire. No one we’ve spoken to identified a fire at the facility that day when the explosion occurred. There are a lot of moving parts, and a lot of agencies partnering in this investigation, so it could take some time.”

Robert Mundy, senior VP and CFO for Packaging Corporation of America, said, We’re just committed to investigation this incident and understanding the causes. We’re cooperating with all the governmental agencies that are investigating it.”

Over the last decade, PCA have been cited for 154 violations and 5 deaths, across their various facilities. The company was involved in a hazardous hydrogen/methane gas explosion, in 2008, at a Tomahawk, Wisconsin facility, which has particular significance as regards the recent DeRidder investigation, as the question of a chemical violation is still under investigation.

One resource that safety leaders can utilize to ensure the safety of their employees and compliance with OSHA standards is an approved online HAZWOPER training course.