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United States Chemical Safety
and Hazard Investigation Board

  Incident Title
  OSHA Proposes to Fine Company; Says Violations Led to Explosions, Fire that Demolished Plant     
  Location Date of Incident
  Willoughby, OH, United States 7/19/2000- 2:30 PM
  CSB Incident Number NRC Report Number Board Ref. Number
  2000-4910 None Reported None Reported
  Current Status Date of Report Update
  No CSB Action 1/5/2001 - 12:08 PM
  Incident Types Location Types
  - Explosion
- Fire
Fixed Facility
  Evacuations Injuries Fatalities
  Yes - Number Unknown 1 (Estimate) None
  Chemicals Involved
  - Propane
  Description or Latest Development
  -----
Information Added: Friday, January 5, 2001 - 12:07 PM
-----
OSHA has proposed a $27,450 fine against AmeriGas Inc.  They said the company had five safety violations that contributed to causing this incident.

OSHA spokesman Rob Medlock said the most serious violation was that an employee improperly vented a large number of propane tanks that had been overfilled by another company.

The plant, located 15 miles east of Cleveland, is one of about 600 AmeriGas retail propane plants nationwide.

AmeriGas, based in Valley Forge, Pa., has not decided whether to contest the fine, spokesman Steve Samuel said. It has 15 days to appeal.

-----
Information Added: Friday, July 21, 2000 - 5:08 PM
-----
A series of explosions at the plant apparently was caused by a spark or static electricity which ignited gas leaking from overfilled tanks, an official said.

Workers at AmeriGas Propane Inc. tried for two days to stop leaks by lowering pressure in the tanks.

Static electricity, a spark or another catalyst started a fire that set off hundreds of explosions Wednesday, city fire investigator Mark Leisure said Thursday.  One person was injured.

Leisure said AmeriGas estimated that almost 900 of 1,100 cylinders from a recent shipment were leaking from safety release valves.  By Wednesday, employees had fixed about 350.

Leisure said trying to deal with the overfilled tanks instead of returning them prevented a serious road hazard from occurring.

AmeriGas attorney Steve Samuel agreed with Leisure's account.  Samuel said he didn't know who overfilled the cylinders or where the shipment originated.

Fire destroyed the dock, several nearby buildings and about a dozen vehicles.

-----
Information Added: Wednesday, July 19, 2000 - 6:13 PM
-----
What was described by a nearby resident as "30 to 40 explosions" rocked a Willoughby, Ohio neighborhood.  The series of explosions and fires demolished part of an AmericGas Propane Inc. plant, forcing the evacuation of nearby homes and businesses as a precaution.

Bill Hayes, plant manager, said he didn't know what caused the explosions and fires.  Twelve employees at the plant were evacuated.

Only one worker, 31-yar-old Len Miller, was treated for burns to his right forearm, left hand and head, according to a hospital spokewoman.

The Willoubhby plant, in northeast Ohio, is one of 600 AmeriGas retail propane plants across the country, according to a spokesman for the Valley Force, Penn. company.

  Sources ( * indicates the original source) Source Details
 
  • Media - Associated Press *
  • 07/19/2000 1657EDT;07/21/2000 0948; 01/05/01 0414EST 

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