Steam Condensation Plant Explosion

 

According to an article published in the May 26, 2017 edition of the Insurance Journal, the Associated Press reported that a steam condensation tank exploded in a St. Louis box manufacturing plant.  The explosion reportedly occurred on April 3.  Upon concluding its investigation, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Board found that engineers at the Loy-Lange Box Company knew that the tank was in need of repairs as early as November of 2012.  However, the repairs were never made and the tank was never inspected by city officials.  As a result, it is clear that the system that was meant to keep pressurized tanks operating safely, failed.  Because of the tank failure, the box plant and another business, Faultless Healthcare Linen, were damaged.  More tragically and more importantly, four people were killed.  It should be noted that the city of St. Louis is actually exempt from Missouri law requiring regular inspections of pressurized vessels by state or insurance company inspectors.  Instead of having inspectors, the city requires that licensed engineers be posted in attendance of the pressurized tanks, in effect delegating its role to company personnel.  It is clear that the system failed because the company and the city of St. Louis did not communicate.  That is, the tank exploded because Loy-Lange failed make the necessary repairs before the tank became a time bomb.  The company failed to make the repairs because there was no government authority to enforce code requirements for inspection or shut the steam plant down.  The city did not do its job because Loy-Lange failed to report its inspections to the city and as a result, the city could not produce inspection reports when requested by the Board.  The engineers in attendance and, therefore the company, might or might not have been required to report to the city but, in any case, provided a way for Loy-Lange to escape scrutiny with disastrous consequences.

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