CSB Safety Video: Static Sparks Explosion in Kansas

September 5, 2019 posted by

[Music] Off Screen Voice: We continue to follow the
breaking news out of Valley Center this morning. A huge explosion … Newscaster: Tremendous
amount of heat, smoke. Officers and authorities are worrying about getting
traffic rerouting, getting people out of the area. Narrator: On July 17, 2007, at about 9:00 a.m., an explosion in a flammable solvent
storage tank at the Barton Solvents facility rocked the town of Valley Center, Kansas,
about 15 miles north of Wichita. Off Screen Voice: This is no longer a safe area;
we are requesting that you evacuate. Narrator: After the explosion, the fire spread,
igniting the contents of other storage vessels and eventually destroying the entire tank farm. Wark: The CSB issued a case study on the accident. Our goal is to help companies understand the
hazards associated with the kinds of flammable liquids that were stored and
transferred at Barton Solvents. McClure: At Barton, several factors
combined to produce the initial explosion. Our investigation shows the need for companies
to take extra precautions when handling what are known as nonconductive flammable liquids,
which tend to accumulate static electricity. [Music] McClure: Based on equipment testing,
laboratory analysis and interviews and documents, here’s what the CSB believes most
likely happened on July 17, 2007. Narrator: Barton Solvents was located
on the edge of a residential community. The facility was a wholesale distributor
of solvents and other industrial chemicals, which were stored in large outdoor tanks. About 8:30 on the morning of the accident, a tank trailer
arrived to transfer a nonconductive solvent, known as varnish makers and painters
or VM&P naphtha, into a storage tank. Because liquid flowing through pipes
and valves generates static electricity, which can ignite flammable vapor, the tank farm supervisor connected a cable
between the truck and an electrical grounding station. In addition, all the equipment involved
in transferring the liquid was bonded, that is, connected together with
electrical conductors and grounded. Inside the 15,000 gallon storage tank there
was a device for measuring the liquid level. A metal tape, which was grounded, was suspended from pulleys and connected to a
metal float by a loose, flexible linkage assembly. This linkage presented a hidden danger
during the filling of the tank. The solvent was pumped from three
tank trailer compartments into the tank. As the hose was switched from one
compartment to another, air entered the line, creating bubbles and turbulence inside the tank. A static electrical charge built up
in the nonconductive liquid. Meanwhile, the space above the liquid was
filled with an explosive mixture of vapor and air. The swirling turbulent liquid caused the float to
drift and rock, creating slack in the metal tape. This allowed a gap to form intermittently in the
linkage assembly, interrupting the grounding of the float. The metal float accumulated
a static electrical charge. About 9:00 a.m., a spark from static electricity
ignited the vapor-air mixture. [Sound of explosion] Narrator: Causing a massive explosion. The blast sent the storage tank
rocketing into the air. Two more tanks quickly ruptured and released
their contents into the rapidly expanding fire. As the fire raged inside the tank farm,
other tanks burst and ignited, launching heavy steel tank lids,
ten to twelve feet in diameter, into the air. Twenty thousand gallons of flammable liquid
were released into the spill containment area. [Sound of explosion] Narrator: Valves, pipes and other heavy steel objects
were hurled offsite and into the adjoining community. One tank lid struck a mobile home about 300 feet away. A pressure valve hit a
neighboring business 400 feet away. Narrator: Six thousand residents were evacuated. Eleven residents and one firefighter
required medical treatment. [Music] McClue: When transferring flammable liquids, it’s standard industry practice to bond and
ground storage vessels, tankers and other equipment to prevent static discharges,
but our investigation illustrates how normal bonding and grounding may not be enough
to prevent ignition from static electric sparks. Holmstrom: Our investigation found several conditions likely increased the accumulation of static electricity
inside the storage tank at Barton. Narrator: The CSB concluded that
repeated starting and stopping of the pump, air in the transfer piping and the likely
presence of water and sediment in the tank all contributed to rapid
static charge accumulation. Because VM&P naphtha is a
poor conductor of electricity, the static charge accumulated faster than it could dissipate,
even though the tank itself was grounded. Holmstrom: A lot of common flammable liquids are
particularly susceptible to ignition by static sparks. At normal temperatures inside a storage tank, they can
produce the optimal amount of vapor to fuel an explosion. Narrator: That’s not so with gasoline,
which is highly volatile and usually produces a vapor-air mixture
that is too rich to ignite inside storage tanks. But the CSB noted that less volatile liquids
like VM&P naphtha, hexane, heptane, toluene, xylene and benzene
form vapor-air mixtures that are within the flammable range
and can ignite readily. Wark: Because most material safety data sheets
do not communicate all the hazards of
nonconductive flammable liquids, the CSB recommends companies take additional
safety measures when handling these materials. Narrator: The CSB said companies should consider
purging storage tanks with an inert gas to remove oxygen, adding anti-static agents to nonconductive liquids,
pumping liquids more slowly and contacting manufacturers for additional
safety information that may not be found on MSDSs. And the CSB case study also urges
special precautions for tank level floats that have a loose linkage assembly
like the one at Barton. Companies should replace or modify these floats, so that
they remain properly bonded and grounded at all times. [Sound of explosion] Narrator: The CSB cautioned that while the
most likely cause of the Barton explosion was sparking across
the float linkage, explosions can occur in tanks without floats
when there is a static discharge from the liquid itself. Companies should consult the CSB case study
and its references for additional information. McClure: The CSB determined that the material safety
datasheet for the solvent involved in the explosion did not adequately describe the
explosive hazard or the precautions necessary to prevent ignition from static electricity. Narrator: Material Safety Data Sheets or
MSDSs are required under federal OSHA regulations to warn workers about the
potential hazards from chemicals. The MSDS for the
naphtha supplied to Barton indicated the solvent could accumulate a static charge,
which could spark and ignite vapor, but the MSDS did not warn that the naphtha could form a
highly flammable vapor-air mixture inside a storage tank. And apart from normal
bonding and grounding, the MSDS did not include any special
precautions against static ignition. CSB investigators said the lack of
warnings reflected a broader problem. Holmstrom: We reviewed Material Safety Data
Sheets for 62 nonconductive flammable liquids that are widely used in industry. The CSB found that the vast majority
of these MSDSs had significant gaps. Narrator: Of the 62 MSDSs covering a
number of widely used nonconductive liquids, most failed to recommend specific precautions
beyond bonding and grounding to prevent static sparks. Only three included electrical conductivity testing data
and only one of the 62 MSDSs warned of the danger of an ignitable
vapor-air mixture forming inside a storage tank. Wark: The CSB recommended that OSHA
improve the information required in Material Safety Data Sheets for
nonconductive flammable liquids. Narrator: The CSB recommended that OSHA
advise MSDS preparers to evaluate each product to determine its potential for
accumulating static electricity and to form an ignitable vapor-air mixture
inside a storage tank. Each liquid should be tested for electrical conductivity
and the results included in the MSDS. The CSB also recommended that six major
oil and chemical industry associations ask their member companies to
improve the warnings on their MSDSs for flammable liquids that can accumulate static electricity. Wark: We hope the CSB investigation
helps increase awareness about the hazards of
nonconductive flammable liquids, so accidents like the one at
Barton Solvents will not be repeated. Thank you for watching
this CSB Safety Video. Wark: For more information
about the CSB investigation and to view the case study on the accident,
please visit our website at CSB.gov. [Music]


73 Replies to “CSB Safety Video: Static Sparks Explosion in Kansas”

  1. TheSaint Of Valhalla says:

    very nice investigation
    thanks a lot

  2. Shirish Gulawani says:

    This is an excellent way of e-learning. How do I download it for the sale of showing to my colleagues and workers in an industry?
    Shirish Gulawani

  3. 3cardcredit says:

    So brilliant! Who would have thought that the linkage was the problem?

  4. David MAckay says:

    This is a great analysis. I am interested if this air in the lines was verified as the cause or was it possible root cause. I'd like a deeper dive into the root cause analysis done as it would be quite interesting.

  5. Ade-Nche M says:

    Most MSDS did not communicate all the associated hazards to some less flammable substances. they had under estimated the consequences of such a hazard. How do liquids generates static discharge??

  6. MF says:

    From Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , King Abdulaziz University . This was a case study in the Industrial Safety Engineering class ( Industrial Engineering Department ) it also a part of Major 2 exam .

  7. Arvindkumar Mishra says:

    Want to download the videos from CSB site. Please let me know the procedure.

  8. Bob Carroll says:

    Refinery tanks usually have a CO2 blanket while loading.

  9. Chronox5 says:

    Excelent detective work.

  10. Xavier de Gea says:

    Congratulations very good and usefull to prevent electrostatic risk

  11. Telesforo Reyes says:

    but Ionization alarms have conclusive evidence that they cannot past the scientific test for visble smoke Must see www.smokealarmwarning.org and please sign The C.P.S.C. Petition http://www.cpscpetition.com/ to request manufactures to place warning labels on their faulty ionized detectors. 10's of 1000's of people have lost their lives from smoke inhalation and 100's of 1000's have been injured over last 40 years despite manufactures knowing about this problem and not warning consumers about this defect. Photoelectric alarms are far more reliable and effective but more expensive to make. Their is a big problem with approximately 90% of smoke detectors still in most homes . Despite Ionized detectors which tend to sound siren when cooking or from mist from shower which is a finer smaller particle they do not sound siren in time for safe evacuation during the thicker smoldering stage which is most likely to occur while occupants are asleep. There is mounds of proof (see www.firecrusade.com) the UL and CPSC and manufactures used selective testing so ionized detectors could receive stamp of approval certification and like tobacco companies the makers of ionized detectors have been sued for millions but keep making the deadly devices because they are cheaper to make and they put money before peoples lives. Help spread this message to all friends, family and share on Youtube, Facebook and other social media sites. Thank you !

  12. Nick Gillotti says:

    I believe there was also a fire at a Barton Solvents plant in Des Moines, Iowa that was also caused by a static spark.

  13. L TR says:

    I don't know why I like these…I'm not in the industry, I have no reason to need this info…but I find it fascinating. Well produced, kind of like watching Seconds From Disaster without all the dramatic filler. Glad I found them.

  14. china thailand says:

    this place should have been placed hundreds of miles from any homes not next door.

  15. Vinn Howard Beazell says:

    They remain ignorant of HOW many hazards are created by mixing chemicals; their arrogance tells them that they can operate SAFELY. ASK the ppl of Japan – FUK-U-Shema prefecture – they now know that they were LIED to by the energy eXPert.s. There are aging facilities all over the continent that threaten the lives of tens of millions who live or dwell near these toxic time-bombs. Not to worry though; the CSB will save US from our ignorant behavior.

  16. Carl Potter says:

    Great job fellows. Worked in the industry and appreciate the efforts, time and care of the Safety Departments.

  17. numan moodi says:

    these videos are very good examples to create awareness about this chemicals

  18. camo hawk says:

    i live in newton and saw this on the news the same day.

  19. ToothyGus says:

    Should've used a level sight glass

  20. Serv Right says:

    Can you imagine what could happen if there were no regulations? I too am fascinated by the science of it all.

  21. Flez says:

    It's like as I keep watching these, they keep getting more complex and seemingly far-fetched. As a chemical engineer myself, this is both entertaining and informative.

  22. Shivansh Prasad says:

    who else is here because of school??

  23. Hennie Austin says:

    The people talking should memorize their parts and not read it from a scipt..

  24. Tadesan says:

    Those recommendations are BS…

    Add things to your chemicals. Just pump more slowly. Force the burden onto the supplier by requiring more information.

    Those are terrible recommendations.

  25. Jamie Lacourse says:

    When I was a kid I recall the older tankers would drag a chain or strap. Now they don't. My son asked me this and I don't know the answer. Can anyone explain this for us? Thanks.

  26. Jamie Lacourse says:

    L TR- if you like machinery check out PA Mining.

  27. Seeking TKO says:

    theres no way they figured this out..there dreamin

  28. Yura Enjoji says:

    welp, also don't put all your storage tanks in one basket

  29. tubester4567 says:

    omg screw that, the fuel can ignite from a spark without metal floats inside. Just from the fluid , Thats scary.

  30. Pat Pikulski says:

    Crazy how a small 3 inch ground strap could of prevented such a large disaster

  31. Ob Fuscated says:

    Communities should zone all such facilities deep into unoccupied areas far away from residences. They cannot be made perfecly safe, so they should be where they can explode and burn without risk to people and structures.

  32. Ob Fuscated says:

    The float should have had a CABLE ground with a POSITIVE connection. That bracket wasn't positive. The video should have pointed this out. Noob stuff.

  33. Toxically Masculine says:

    yeah lets just put 50 different tanks of flammable material packed right next to each other in a tiny area and leave the whole rest of the lot empty. nothing obviously wrong with that, is there?

  34. Prabhu Nagarajan says:

    These videos are very informative in learning hazardous situation in industries around us. I am impressed by the animation and great explanation provided on these videos. Thanks a ton for those who have investigated and prepared these videos. 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

  35. Glen Blackbourn says:

    even the solvent itself and cause a spark. wow looks like its very difficult to prevent.

  36. CLUB LOL says:

    How to eliminate this type of issue?

  37. Pockets MacCartney says:

    scales under tanks to use weight to determine volume or qty eliminates the float complication; inert gas displacing air, the other.

  38. nightwolf4207 says:

    I live in Wichita and remember this it was one year before I graduated crazy

  39. Jerry Hu says:

    Damn, seems like even the smallest thing can cause shit to go down

  40. Mike Stevens says:

    I don't know what the opposite of u s marine is. , but these teach me when to start running away..f dis I'm gone…

  41. slomoe49 says:

    I don't believe that story for a second, reminds me of the clowns who investigated the Twin Towers.

  42. Shado Dancer says:

    the saying goes hindsight is 20/20 , if the CSB places BLAME as if victim companies and people should have KNOWN Better, however IF the CSB had KNOWN about those Dangers PRE-Explosion , WHY have they NOT made a Recommendation sooner??

  43. Adam Johnson says:

    I work in I.T. and am about as detached from these industries as you could be, but still can't stop watching these videos.

  44. Jimmy Tremblay says:

    And to think that having a bond wire bolted between the tape and float could maybe have prevented the discharge… bad engineering design for a "fully grounded system". Very unfortunate event though

  45. Miles Balthazor says:

    I live in Valley Center, and we had to evacuate for about three days… crazy stuff


    This is why yoiu never ground to piping, ugh so many "electricians" will argue you till your dead about this

  47. Ensign MJS says:

    Fascinating. Everyone did everything correctly according to the standards at the time and this still occurred.

  48. artgoat says:

    The sad part is that this is not the only tank-filling explosion at a Barton Solvents facility. There was another very similar incident at a Barton Solvents facility in Iowa, just a few months later in October 2007. In this case, they tried to do everything right, and got caught by something they never expected.

  49. calvinthedestroyer says:

    Kind of surprised they didn't say anything about the tanks being so close together.

  50. John Ross says:

    Why the FUCK do they not build these tanks strong enough to not just blow up instantly? Where are the concrete shields and protection? Rookies, Jesus christ.

  51. Cheyne Simons says:

    fucking bullshit, any elementary school student knows enof about electricity to call bullshit!!!!

  52. gorillaau says:

    It must be tough to come up with a cause when all evidence has been burnt to the ground or spread of over a large area. Kudos to the investigators.

  53. John Anders says:

    What they do now is that they stretch a copper grounding line from the float to the automatic tank gauge tape, so they are both grounded

  54. Dale Mahalko says:

    These recommendations don't go far enough because a highly explosive mixture is allowed to form in the tank.. There needs to be a liquid/air separator so oxygen is not pushed into the tank. There may need to be a containment bladder inside the tank to isolate liquid from open air in the empty space above.

  55. Mabel yourmama says:

    I like seeing the bent and burnt out giant tanks and things like that, but at the same time I feel horrible that these accidents can kill and hurt people and cause such terrible grief to the families. To see something that huge, that costs so much to operate and maintain (well, supposed to be maintained) it's hard to believe something like this can happen to these immense indestructible creepy and ominous looking, industrial creations.

  56. blackhawk says:

    Perhaps but the decisive ignition source will never be known.
    An atmospheric static discharge is always possible and more likely the cause. Sealed venting/VOC collection helps to prevent this.
    The static must have enough current in it's arc to trigger ignition.
    Seems unlikely it had enough time to do so as contact was nearly continuous limiting any possible charge build up.

    The real failure was inadequate spacing/containment between tanks.
    Tanks will catch fire from time to time.

  57. cyrex686 says:

    Thata a scary one, wouldn't have thought that possible.

  58. Jack Hoffmen says:


  59. Muhammad Farooq Iqbal says:

    As fas as your given reason about air mixing while changing the hose pipe i am not agree with you, because everytime and every such kind of liquid transfer same practices are being employed then why this time this catch fire? 🤔

  60. Samsng Device says:

    My belt buckle ignited an explosive situation when an exotic dancer…

    Like my commen plz..

  61. Tim Millspaugh says:

    There cause is a good educated guess but they will never be able to say it was the cause for certain.

  62. Halberdin says:

    How about using delayed grounding, i.e. discharge over a resistor, to minimize the possibility of high voltage differences that create sparks?

  63. Dylan Frost says:

    I remember this as a child, I was only 7 at the time. All the way in Kansas City Missouri, we were told to stay inside and not to breathe as much as possible if being outside was a necessity

  64. Donald Scearce says:

    So OSHA failed to give enough data? Lol brilliant

  65. Jahangir Yar Khan says:

    Very Informative.

  66. Hippity hoppity your child Is OUR property says:

    I just love how the CSB talks smack to osha and other work/industrial groups

  67. Yohann Last says:

    Defunding The Chemical Safety Board Is A Bad Idea And Likely To Increase Chemical Disasters
    We are thought leaders in energy from the University of Houston.

    Unfortunately, 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.

  68. Victor PONCE says:

    "our investigation showed that people get paid lots of$$and still hav their heads up their ass. Because they care about profits first the greedy badtards dont care who gets hurt. They dont work with the equip." Thats our safety board conclusion. Ahem😈🤢🤧

  69. brian bing says:

    csb want to tell everyone they are wrong after the fact. why not tell them whats wrong before it all blows up. to late to work.

  70. Sam Labo says:

    Such sad intro

  71. Rob C says:

    are all the CSB staff robots ??

  72. Cnn is Fakenews says:

    Probably more to this story. They said there was water and debris in the bottom of the tank. It could react to make some kind of acid or heat thru chemical reactions. When injected with air from the hoses might have reached an ignition point even without static source.

  73. Advocatus Diaboli says:

    Flawed design.
    Any kind of grounding installation is so crucial, it can't have such flaws.
    The manufacturer should be held responsible.

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