Explosion of an alcohol tank inside a vinegar plant - issue 258

Issue Number: 258


A tank containing an alcohol vinegar mixture exploded during a start-up activity, resulting in the tank bottom detaching, projecting the upper half upwards by missile effect. Two subcontractors were injured and the roof of the plant was damaged. A number of contributing factors were identified, including:
• Underestimating the ignition risk due to the substantial difference between the actual alcohol concentration and the expected level;
• Inadequate preparation of the on-site works;
• Lack of concern over the impact of meteorological conditions while works were underway;
• Start-up occurred without any compliance review being undertaken beforehand;
• The installation design did not allow for a controlled dissipation of the energy generated by the explosion.

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