WICHITA, Kansas - The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has released a case study and safety video on the July 2007 explosion and fire at the Barton Solvents’ distribution facility in Valley Center, KS. The CSB found the most likely cause of the explosion, involving what is known as a nonconductive flammable liquid, was a static spark resulting from a loosely linked level-measuring float within the tank. The spark ignited the air-vapor mixture inside the tank as it was being filled.
Board Member William Wark said, “Several common flammable liquids are particularly susceptible to ignition by static sparks. Some of these flammable liquids can produce the optimal amount of vapor to fuel an explosion at normal temperatures inside a storage tank.”
The CSB recommended that companies take additional measures to prevent static electricity buildup in storage tanks of nonconductive flammable liquids. It also issued recommendations to OSHA and others to improve required information contained in Material Safety Data Sheets to include addressing nonconductive flammable liquid.
The CSB released a 10-minute safety video about the accident, which can be found at www.safetyvideos.gov.