Unauthorized field modified equipment, drain lines cause control cabinet explosion

A sealed, unclassified electrical control enclosure, part of a listed and certified force-ventilated commercial hydrogen processing unit enclosure, exploded when the equipment manufacturer’s technician pressed the machine stop switch to complete factory commissioning procedure. The technician was forcefully hit by the flying metal panel holding the switch and sustained serious injuries requiring lengthy hospitalization and rehabilitation. Two were hospitalized. Two others were injured.

Unauthorized field modified equipment, drain lines cause control cabinet explosion

A sealed, unclassified electrical control enclosure, part of a listed and certified force-ventilated commercial hydrogen processing unit enclosure, exploded when the equipment manufacturer’s technician pressed the machine stop switch to complete factory commissioning procedure. The technician was forcefully hit by the flying metal panel holding the switch and sustained serious injuries requiring lengthy hospitalization and rehabilitation. Two were hospitalized. Two others were injured.

Incorrect Hydrogen Gas Bottle Connected to Glove Box

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

An individual inadvertently connected a pure hydrogen gas bottle to a chamber/glove box as opposed to a 10% hydrogen (in nitrogen) bottle that should have been used. [The wrong bottle had mistakenly been delivered, and the inexperienced individual did not know the difference.] The hydrogen concentration increased within the chamber to about 9%. Since there was insufficient oxygen in the chamber to support combustion, the hydrogen did not burn, and was quickly diluted with nitrogen.

Incorrect Flammable Gas Cylinder Attached to Anaerobic Chamber

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

A laboratory research technician entered a lab to begin preparing samples that were to ultimately be purged in an anaerobic chamber (glove box) located in that room. As the technician walked into the lab, she looked at the chamber to see if it was adequately inflated. This chamber is equipped with a gas concentration meter, capable of simultaneously displaying the oxygen and hydrogen concentrations of the chamber atmosphere.

Incorrect Relief Valve Set Point Leads to Explosion

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

Incident Synopsis
During a standard testing procedure, a 3,000 psig relief valve actuated at normal line pressure, releasing gaseous H2. The gaseous H2 combined with air, resulting in an explosion which damaged the test facility.

Cause
The relief valve was improperly set to open at line pressure, and the inspection was inadequate in that it didn't identify this error. Contributing cause was poor design of the venting system, which was installed in a horizontal position, causing inadequate venting and buildup of static electricity.

Mounting Joint on a Safety Valve Developed a Hydrogen Gas Leak and Fire

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

Overview
During operation of a succinic acid plant, hydrogen leaked from a mounting joint on a safety valve at the upper part of a reactor, which generated a hydrogen flame. Prior to the incident, the safety valve was removed and reattached during an inspection at a turnaround shutdown. An incorrectly sized, smaller gasket was installed on the joint, and the tightening force on the bolts was inadequate. Therefore, a gap was generated as time went by and un-reacted hydrogen leaked.

Inadequate Maintenance at a Soap Manufacturing Plant Causes a Hydrogen Flash Fire

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

An employee at a soap manufacturing plant died in a flash fire outside the facility's hydrogenation building. Responding personnel encountered a fire at the base of the plant's hydrogen storage towers, and they found the victim, who was burned over 90 percent of his body, some 50 feet away.

Officials determined that a pipe connection failed and that hydrogen, pressurized at 1,800 psi, ignited when it was released into the atmosphere, killing the plant operator.

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