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Digester explosion kills two workers at wastewater treatment plant in Pennsylvania, February 6, 1987.

Authors
NIOSH
Source
NIOSH 1987 Mar; :1-5
NIOSHTIC No.
00174309
Abstract
During drainage of a sewage digester taken out of service for routine cleaning, an explosion lifted the 30 ton floating cover, killing two workers at a wastewater treatment facility on February 6, 1987. Experiencing difficulty in removing the sludge from the bottom of the 30 feet deep digester, the two victims climbed on to the floating cover of the digester to pump water into it, in an effort to loosen the sludge. The driver of the pumper truck reversed his pump to blow air up through the sludge to aid in loosening it. The victims lowered a light bulb (the light and cord were not approved for hazardous operations) into the digester to view the sludge level. The bulb apparently broke, providing a source of ignition for the combustible gases in the digester, likely methane (74828). The floating cover was found to be wedged into the digester at a 45 degree angle. The victims were removed about 4 hours later from the digester. Cervical fracture was listed as the cause of death for both men. It was recommended that proper work procedures be developed and employees trained in these procedures and that comprehensive policies and procedures be developed for confined space entry.
Keywords
NIOSH-Author; Region-3; FACE-87-33; Confined-spaces; Sewage-industry; Sewage-treatment; Waste-treatment; Safety-practices; Combustible-gases; Explosive-gases; Accident-analysis;
CAS No.
74-82-8;
Publication Date
19870306
Document Type
Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation; Field Studies
Fiscal Year
1987
NTIS Accession No.
PB88-149422
NTIS Price
A01
Identifying No.
FACE-87-33
NIOSH Division
DSR
SIC Code
NAICS-22
Source Name
Division of Safety Research, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Morgantown, West Virginia, Report No. FACE-87-33, 5 pages
State
PA; WV
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