CSB Safety Video: Public Worker Safety: Wastewater Plant Exp

CSB Safety Video: Public Worker Safety: Wastewater Plant Exp


Narrator: On January 11, 2006,
an explosion and fire erupted at the Bethune Point Wastewater Treatment Plant
operated by the City of Daytona Beach, Florida. Two workers were killed and
a third was gravely injured. The explosion occurred as the
workers used a cutting torch above a storage tank containing highly
flammable methyl alcohol or methanol. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board
investigated the accident and issued a report with
findings and safety recommendations. The Bethune Point facility
employs eleven full-time workers and treats 13 million
gallons of wastewater a day. Methanol is used as an additive in
the wastewater treatment process. Merritt: The CSB found this tragedy occurred because
the city did not have a program to control hot work, that is, activities such as welding and cutting
that can ignite flammable materials. Furthermore, the city did not adequately train the workers
on the flammable and explosive hazards of methanol. Hall: Our investigation revealed that
flaws in the engineering design and maintenance greatly
increased the severity of this accident. The animation that follows is
based on the evidence we collected. On the day of the accident,
three workers were removing a hurricane damaged steel roof at the
Bethune Point Wastewater Treatment Plant. The roof covered two
chemical storage tanks; one empty, the other containing about 3,000
gallons of methanol, a highly flammable liquid. Two of the workers were
up in a man-lift basket where they were using an oxyacetylene torch
to cut the roof into sections. The third worker was operating a crane
to lower the roof sections to the ground. Beneath them, methanol vapor, which is
invisible but colored grey here for illustration, was venting from the top of the tank as
the morning sun warmed the liquid inside. As designed, the tank vented the
methanol vapor through a flame arrester, a simple device intended to prevent the contents
of the tank from being ignited by a fire outside. As the workers cut the roof, sparks
from the torch showered down onto the tank. The sparks ignited the methanol vapor, creating a
fireball under the two workers in the open man-lift basket. The fire flashed into the flame arrester,
but it was badly corroded and it failed to function. Flames spread instantly into the tank,
igniting the methanol inside. The force of the explosion from the
methanol air mixture inside the tank was so great, it rounded out the tank bottom
and lifted the tank walls. The blast ejected the level switch
and flame arrester from the tank. Plastic piping connected to the tank
fractured as the tank lifted and deformed. Methanol, under pressure from the explosion, spewed
from the broken pipes and ignited, spreading the fire. Methanol from broken pipes sprayed the crane cab,
caught fire and burned the worker inside. He died from his injuries
the following day. Burning methanol vapors flowed out of
the open vent on the top of the tank. In the man-lift basket,
both workers were now burning. One jumped or fell
from the basket and died. The other worker escaped by climbing onto the roof,
jumping to a lower roof and then to the ground. He was gravely injured, but survived
after many months in the hospital. Hall: The CSB found that some of the causes
of this accident could be traced back to 1993 when the methanol tank was installed. These include problems with the flame arrester
and the use of plastic piping on the tank. Narrator: CSB investigators that the
flame arrester plates were made of aluminum, which is readily corroded by methanol. These plates are designed to allow
vapors to vent safely from the tank. In case of fire outside the tank,
the plates cool and extinguish flames and prevent them from igniting
the flammable methanol inside. In this case, the plates were so corroded,
they were incapable of quenching the flames. This corrosion could have been
detected through regular inspections, yet the CSB found that the city was not
aware of the need to inspect the flame arrester and had not done so since its
installation 13 years earlier. Selk: Plant managers should verify that
critical safety devices, such as flame arresters, are regularly inspected and maintained. Facility designers should ensure that proper materials
are specified for pipes carrying hazardous liquids. Selk: The engineering company that designed the Bethune
Point methanol storage system, Camp, Dresser and McKee, specified that the piping and valves
be made of PVC plastic, not steel. Steel is stronger and tougher than PVC. Had steel piping been used, it likely
would have remained intact during the explosion and the resulting fire
would have been less severe. Selk: Worker training was another important
issue identified in the CSB’s investigation. Bethune Point workers could not recall ever
receiving any training on the hazards of methanol. In fact, the employees only
received a total of about one hour of safety training in each of the
two years preceding the accident. Barab: Florida law does not
require state or local governments to provide public employees with safety training
or to comply with OSHA safety standards if public employees may face workplace hazards
similar to those found in the private sector where compliance with
OSHA standards is mandatory. Florida had a health and safety program for
public workers, but it was eliminated in 2000. In addition to Florida, public workers in 25
other states also are not covered by OSHA regulations, though some are covered
by voluntary programs. Merritt: OSHA regulations require among other things
chemical hazard training and hot work programs, which could have prevented
the explosion at Bethune Point. To prevent future accidents, the Board
made recommendations to the State of Florida, the City of Daytona Beach
and to others. Merritt: The CSB recommended
that Florida enact legislation to require workplace health and safety programs
for all public employees in the state, including chemical safety standards
at least as effective as OSHA. We recommended that until
state laws are in place, the City of Daytona Beach adopt health
and safety ordinances to cover its workers. We also made recommendations to the
National Fire Protection Association and to OSHA that would further restrict the use of
plastic in piping systems for flammable liquids. Merritt: The tragedy at the wastewater plant
could have been prevented, had the City followed the same safety standards
required of private employers. Workers in private industry benefit from a variety of
OSHA standards designed to prevent deaths and injuries. Public sector employees deserve no less. Thank you for watching
this CSB Safety Video. Merritt: For more information about the
Bethune Point accident or other CSB investigations, please visit our
website at CSB.gov.

Author:

99 thoughts on “CSB Safety Video: Public Worker Safety: Wastewater Plant Exp”

  • Safety training,routine inspection and maintenance = lives! I hate that it takes someone to lose their life for new regulations to take place but these poor men punched the time card expecting to go home and to their families. Simple oversights are wicked and merciless!!!

  • The third guy was wise after their mistake! that was smart of him to have thought of running thro9ugh the roof to an area where he could descend or jump at a safer height. I thought the guy in the mobile crane could survive or escape easily upon seeing the ball of fire explode above the tank. Well the first guy had the worst instant death! But crane driver had really tasted hell fire. I wish he can bypass hell after this incident for real.

  • "Florida law does not require state or local governments to provide public employees with safety training, or to comply with OSHA safety standards"

    aka Republicans

  • Good God, no HWP or pre job safety planning. I guess City maintenance people just weren't aware of that kind of safety culture.

  • That lady at :50 doesn't seem like she has ever actually been around hot work. Just seems to be reading a script. If you really want to connect with the "good old boys" or whatever you want to call the stubborn workers have someone who actually has worked in the field and has dealt with the hard jobs. Hell, all the people in this vid seem to be office people, it's one thing to quote "OSHA says this" then to actually know the material in question. If you've never been there and done that, then how can you even attempt to get someone to not do it? It's a tragedy that they weren't properly briefed on the location and hazards. It's also a tragedy that improper safety devices on the tank were installed, and that no one ever checked on them.

  • Aleatha Vogel says:

    "Florida law does not require state or local governments to provide public employees with safety training, or to comply with OSHA safety standards." Ok so Florida is basically saying that public employees are expendable. Nice.

  • Once again, we see how equipment for handling highly dangerous materials has been designed, operated and maintained by brain dead mickey mouse amateurs. Wouldn't a professional welder want to know what's in a tank that he's going to be showering with sparks? Is there anyone on the property who's bright enough to ask the question, "What would happen if…?"
    The CSB has produced hundreds of accident reports during its 20 year history. They present the results and conclusions flatly, with absolutely no sense of shock or mockery. But you've got to imagine the meetings they've attended in which highly trained investigators are falling out of their chairs at the stupidity of chemical industry workers who cause these spectacular accidents. I'd LOVE to attend just one meeting for the entertainment.

  • superdrummergaming says:

    They were using a torch above a RACING FUEL TANK. How does one ignore maintenance on something called a "flame arrestor"? They used PVC pipe. I'm at a loss for words.

  • man, come on, anyone with half a brain would have had that entire top of that tank covered with burning cloth or something… what a horrible way to die… come on common sense… you cant blame that one on the city now, blame that shit on hurry, hurry, hurry or cheaper faster better BS.

  • Damn, the guy who still had the presence of mind while ON FIRE to think of an escape plan that wouldn't kill him outright was a true pimp. Good for him.

  • Local governments outside major urban cities are usually yokels who know fuck all about anything but getting elected. They hire their buddy network. In my town they are utterly incompetent. This is no surprise.

  • Every person who ever advocates for rollback of regulations or elects someone who advocates removal of regulations needs to be strapped in and forced to watch the entire USCSB playlist clockwork-orange style.

  • Jesuskeyrist.
    No one is looking over the other guys shoulder to make sure all is well.
    No systems engineer checking things out.
    No one with an eye to safety first.
    Sad.

  • y'know…….a short section (20cm.) of stainless pipe with a roll of stainless mesh (18cm.) inside would have a better flame barrier.

  • phydeauxddog says:

    Most of these accident can be linked to those who claim to be in charge. Management seldom knows anything about work being done. They only think in dollars.

  • Why is the video quality so low on these? This one is at 240p, some are at 360p. Kinda fuzzy. 720p would be ideal (really no need for hi def for these)

  • Sam Turberville says:

    Close these old plants down and start rebuilding new plants. Start replacing parts 2-4 times or more a year and start upgrading the safety equipment

  • Im an engineer and this is one of the worst videos ive seen. There so many gawking oversights. The welders were sent to their death.

    1. There was no hot work permit
    2. They did not empty the tank they were working above
    3. They did not purge or blanket the tank with nitrogen
    4. They made the pipes out of the wrong material
    5. They made the flame arrestor out of the wrong material
    6. No maintenance
    6. there was no sprinkler system
    7. There was no firefighter on site
    8. There was no supervisor to oversee and help
    9. No safety training

    Worst of all I bet the people who sent them in to do the job didnt tell them that there was stuff still in the tank. Any welder worth his salt is smart enough to not weld above 3000 gallons of super flammable liquid. Even florida man has to be that smart

  • Completely inept management and beyond stupid workers. Sounds like the government. I knew somebody who managed the parks maintenance department in a large city. The number of employees who got a job there because their dad, uncle, brother, sister, etc worked there was staggering. Some of them were great employees, some were completely incompetent, its extremely hard to fire government workers because of civil service protection rules.

    Not saying that's what happened here with this accident, but it wouldn't surprise me if these workers(RIP) got a job working for the city due to a family connection and not based on actual merit.

  • Hey guys, today we are going to get an oxy-acetaline torch set and then climb up on top of a 50,000 gallon methyl-alcohol tank and spark up the torch. No thanks.

  • In every video of the CSB it always comes down to lack of basic common sense, poor maintenance, and simply not following safety procedures. All of these accidents were totally avoidable

  • When I hear "HOT WORK" I think of really buff big tall hard body builder guys muscles bulging covered in sweat looking hot doing manly manual labor. Sexy hot bodies doing hot work

  • If you do anything that stupid you deserve to die. The methanol tank should have been drained, purged and tested as well the other tank for volatility before hot work began.

  • All it would have taken was for one of these men to ask what was inside the tank they were above… I bet they wouldn’t have wanted to do that job at all after asking the right question.

  • Did theyvhave a FLAMABLE safety sign anywhere on the tanks?

    I think the welders cary an obligation as part of their job to know these safety risks. Its kind of like feul delivery drivers.

    They either knew or should have known that it was careless and wreckless to let shards of sparks rain down on a storage tank that might contain unknown liquids.

    Abybody see the video about the propane storage tank explosion at a gas station? When propane vapors entered the store, everyone locked themselves "inside" the store for safety. They all perished. Sad. 😥

  • Most of my family has retired from the CoDB. I knew a couple of these guys personally. It's very sad, what's worse is how their lawsuits got tossed out after YEARS of trying to get closure. Last I remember they basically put the blame on the employees.

  • FlyToChina0071 says:

    Another "sad" video from USCSB. Of course it is always easy afterwards to say, what you should have done, but still too many lives have been lost due to loss of "common sense"

  • Defunding The Chemical Safety Board Is A Bad Idea And Likely To Increase Chemical DisastersUnfortunately, the 2019 budget proposed by the Trump administration zeros out funding
    for the USCSB. Its requested fiscal-year funding, $12 million, is
    modest for a government agency. Likewise, the 2018 budget also proposed to defund the USCSB.
    This sustained effort reflects an ongoing de-emphasis on chemical
    safety – as a second example, Environmental Protection Agency
    Administrator Scott Pruitt has indefinitely delayed bans on the use of three hazardous chemicals, shown to be toxic to human health.
    Chemical production is an essential component of modern society. This
    does not mean that there is not room to improve practices in
    manufacturing, storing, and shipping chemicals, and in ensuring the
    safety of those who work in or live near chemical plants. The vantage of
    an independent group is crucial for identifying those aspects that can
    and should be improved.
    Defunding the USCSB, which provides this indispensable independent
    perspective, is likely to hinder efforts to identify the causes of
    chemical accidents – especially in low-regulation locales.
    Moreover, it is also likely to worsen our ability to respond in
    previously unforeseen events, such as the heavy flooding of Harvey, that
    may be exacerbated by climate change. Finally, it is likely to cost lives in future incidents.

  • 05:00 steel is obviously stronger than PVC, but not strong enough to prevent it from breaking in case of an explosion such as this one.

  • A capacity of 13 million gallons a day, yet Daytona Beach only has 61,005 people, an example of over-engineering at its finest

  • Edgar Friendly says:

    why. why is CSBs Carolyn Merritt in this video? please stop. I don't know who told you all to include yourselves in the videos, but whatever reason they gave you is wrong.

    let's stop the video 0:45 seconds in and have Aunt Carol lecture you.

  • mistermodified1 says:

    Who pays for CSB, and no one is legally obligated to follow their recommendations right? If so, what good is it? For example, if there is only once incident somewhere and the state doesn't want to spend more money on something, they're surely not going to if they don't have to.

  • Lawyers should have been fighting tooth and nail to get that case. If I'm that worker that survived, I OWN that city!!

  • Damn, we have a Waste Water Treatment facility in our Fire District, when I was a Firefighter I always cringed when we got a call for there. Thankfully nothin too serious the Managers and Workers do a good job of mitigating any big accidents. NFPA is basically a guideline but….you ever go to Court concerning NFPA those guidelines hold up as laws.

  • More government failures, and they wanna be the ones to regulate gun safety? Hey folks you don't need guns, the government is here to protect you. Nothing can go wrong with that.

  • Even with a good flame arrestor the PVC and hot work can be a real problem. All it takes is one hot chunk to land on the PVC pipe.

  • How do cities get away w this? We had to give burn permits at caterpillar even if they were outside and over a 1/4. Mile from anything that would burn

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