On July 28, an Omega Protein plant in Moss Point, MS exploded—killing one of the workers at the facility and injuring three others. The incident occurred at a fish processing plant and safety officials are now saying that the explosion was caused by sparks igniting a volatile mixture.
Chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board stated in a news release that the industrial workers had been performing "hot work" near the exploded tank at the time of the explosion; hot work can be any task that involves heat (and can therefore cause fire), such as cutting or welding.
Per the news release, the tank that exploded had been filled with several inches of "stickwater," which is a mixture of water and fish matter. It had previously been thought to be noncombustible and therefore no testing of any kind had been performed on it. At the time of the incident, workers had been repairing the metal tower and thought that it was empty.
The hot work is believed to have set off an explosion that blew the lid of the tank off and killed a worker who had been on top of it. According to the Moss Point Fire Chief, the explosion was so large that it sent debris scattered more than 85 yards away from the tank.
The plant re-opened on August 7.