Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Metal Combustible Dust Fires Rage On

Combustible dust fires across the nation have been an ongoing trend over the past six weeks since the catastrophic Dixie Crystal Sugar Refinery explosion last month.

"MUSKEGON COUNTY — A fire that started early this morning at the Port City Industrial Finishing Inc. plant in Muskegon caused about $120,000 in damage, fire officials estimate."

In this incident lady luck held the high cards with no injuries nor fatalities at a facility that polished aluminum used for Harley-Davidson parts.

The last combustible dust incident occurred a week earlier at Custom Alloy Corporation in High Bridge, New Jersy when a fire ensued inside an enclosed dust collector in a metal-grinding room.

"Firefighters wearing protective breathing gear had to take apart the collector to extinguish burning metal particles inside. Smith said a small dust explosion occurred during the fire."
In that incident the small dust explosion occurred while fire teams were fighting the fire. Luckily, Fire Chief Jeffrey Smith's team of over 70 firefighters from the boroughs of Quakertown, Lebanon, Lebanon Township, Califon, Glen Gardner, Hampton, and High Bridge Rescue walked away unscathed.

The hazards of combustible particulate solids (CPS) and the combustible dusts that are generated in manufacturing processes can become deadly with the explosive power of gunpowder when suspended and in a confined space of the shop floor and exposed to an ignition source such as static electricity at the seemingly harmless millijoule level.

Tens of thousands of workers across the nation will arrive at work tomorrow morning with no idea of the dangers they are exposed to when handling metal, food, feed, grain, textile, paper, and other harmless bulk materials (combustible particulate solids) prior to initiating the manufacturing process. It's only when the materials in their raw form begin to be processed (combustible dust) that the dangers set in.

Thats when the dust begins to accumulate on the shop floor, ledges, hard to reach spots, and eventually suspension in the air. All that is missing for a combustible dust incident is ignition. In the right conditions with a worker walking across the shop floor, 10 millijoules of charge can be generated and touching the right spot 1000-2000 picofarads can jump across an ungrounded surface and hopefully lady luck is nearby.

Either way in some form or other, across all industries spread throughout the nation, approximately 15 of those workers will never make it to the time clock and eventually home alive to see there loved ones, lady luck won't be kind to them.

Google Map Combustible Dust Explosions and Fires

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