Investigators: Excess turpentine led to explosive environment at PCA

Investigators: Excess turpentine led to explosive environment at PCA
The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board has released its final report on the 2017 explosion at Packaging Corporation of America that killed three people. (Source: U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board)

(KPLC) - Excess turpentine that had not been siphoned off from a 100,000-gallon foul condensate tank led to an explosion at the Packaging Corporation of America mill in DeRidder in February 2017.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board on Tuesday released its final report on the 2017 explosion at Packaging Corporation of America that killed three people.

The explosion sent the condensate tank flying over a six-story structure. Jody Gooch, age 40, of Newton, Texas, William Rolls, age 32, of Mittie, and Sedrick Stallworth, age 42, of Alabama, were all killed in the explosion. Seven others were injured, including a fourth member of the crew - Guadalupe Delarosa.

Read the full report HERE.

The safety investigation board also released a video explaining the explosion.

The three contract workers were repairing water piping above the condensate tank during an annual shutdown. A hot work permit was issued on the morning of Feb. 8 after a gas detector found none around the water piping.

There was only 10 feet of liquid in the tank, which was believed to be mostly water.

However, turpentine which had risen to the top of the water had not been siphoned off for months, due to confusion over who was supposed to operate the foul condensate tank, leaving the tank more flammable than expected, according to the safety investigation board's report.

The safety investigation board said it could not say with certainty was the exact ignition source, but it is believed that sparks or molten slag from welding heated up the wall of the tank or caused some other form of ignition. It could also have been that once the work was completed and the tools were being lowered, a welding tool fell against the tank and created an electric arc.

The explosion happened at 11:05 a.m., launching the tank 375 feet away.

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