WASHINGTON - The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has released a comprehensive safety video on the massive explosion which shook Danvers, MA, a suburb of Boston, on Nov. 22, 2006.
The video, entitled Blast Wave in Danvers, is based on an 18-month CSB investigation into the accident at the CAI ink manufacturing facility, completed in May 2008. It is available for viewing and downloading at the Video Room of the CSB's website, www.safetyvideos.gov. DVDs can be requested free of charge at www.safetyvideos.gov.
The video features a computer-generated 3-D animation graphically depicting the sequence of events leading to the explosion and the subsequent blast wave that rolled over the Danversport residential area, destroying dozens of homes and businesses and causing extensive damage to many more. The animation shows how the blast blew entire window frames into the bedrooms of sleeping residents, who comment on the experience in the video.
“The safety video clearly illustrates how the lack of checklists, automatic shutoff systems, process controls and hazard analyses can lead to a catastrophic chemical accident,” said CSB Chairman John Bresland. “Together with the Massachusetts state and local officials and residents who appeared in the video, we share the hope that this accident and the resulting investigations will pave the way for improved public safety in the future.”
The CSB found, and the video shows, how a critical steam valve used to control the temperature of a 2,000-gallon batch of flammable solvents inside an ink-making process vessel was likely left open inadvertently by a CAI production supervisor. The solvents boiled and flammable vapor escaped from the unsealed process vessel into the facility, which was not ventilated at night when the building was unoccupied. During the overnight hours, hundreds of pounds of flammable vapor were released into the building, eventually reaching an ignition source on the morning of Nov. 22.
“We hope this video will encourage other communities, officials and local emergency planning committees to improve awareness of industrial hazards, review the effectiveness of codes and inspections, and minimize the potential for future disasters involving flammable materials close to residential neighborhoods,” Chairman Bresland said.