INVESTIGATION: PCA 'missed opportunities' in preventing 2017 fatal explosion

Published: Apr. 24, 2018 at 10:05 AM CDT
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The Chemical Safety Board has released their final investigation into the February 2017 explosion at Deridder’s Packaging Corporation of America Plant that killed three contract workers and injured seven others.

The explosion occurred on Feb. 8, 2017, just before noon. Three contract workers were conducting “hot work” on an elevated pipe rack above a foul condensate tank. That’s when the 30 ft. tall, 100,000-gallon tank exploded, launching nearly 400 feet and killed the three contract workers.

In a media conference call, the CSB, who conducts independent investigations after incidents, said PCA “missed opportunities” in preventing the incident. CSB said PCA was unaware of some of the liquids that were present in the foul condensate tank including turpentine which can be highly flammable. CSB also said there was confusion over who actually owned and oversaw the tank.

CSB sent recommendations to PCA that included conducting a process hazard analysis, putting in safeguards, implementing safer design options and establishing clear lines for operations of the tank.

But for what’s next, CSB said PCA is looking at those options for the future.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is attempting to fine PCA over $60,000 dollars in penalties, but the company is currently fighting the violations.

KPLC reports at least seven lawsuits have been filed in Beauregard Parish by survivors of those who died and those who were injured, as well as suits filed in Texas.

PCA is a pulp and paper mill that produces containerboard. Those killed were Jody Gooch, 40, of Newton, Texas; William Rolls, 32, of Mittie; and Sedrick Stallworth of Alabama.

We reached out to PCA but have not heard back from them at this time.