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Contaminated Plant Sites

There are many reasons that explosions occur at industrial plant sites, but one of the most common incidents that can result in an explosion is when the plant site is contaminated. When there are dangerous gases, chemicals, and sediments at an industrial site, the chemical reactions can cause explosions and wreak havoc.

Water Contamination

Often, contaminants in plant sites are located in the groundwater. Methane gas is a component in natural case that can often enter groundwater through natural or industrial processes. According to the Water Systems Council, methane gas can become an explosion hazard at high concentrations. Methane forms an explosive mixture in the air when it is at concentrations between 5% and 15% volume. There are other factors that must contribute to trigger an explosion, such as the water temperature and the ventilation of the well where the methane is present. Also, air movement and the composition of the gas will determine what concentration of methane can produce an explosive hazard.

At industrial plants, it is important that groundwater or surface waters are tested for the presence of methane gas, as it could trigger a terrible reaction in the right circumstances. State and local health departments often provide water testing for methane. Well water that contains methane concentrations above 29 milligrams per liter should be reduced immediately, and methane concentrations below 10 mg are typically considered safe.

Some nuclear power plants may also have concentrations of Tritium near the industrial site. This is mildly radioactive hydrogen that can occur naturally but heightened levels are typically found near operating nuclear plants. The water with tritium is normally released under monitored conditions from the plant. The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) demands that all nuclear power plants check for the presence of radioactive materials on their site property as well as in the surrounding environment. Industrial plants typically create contaminated ground water and surface water through four main outlets as identified by the USNRC:

  • Evaporation of Liquids
  • Routine, Approved Releases
  • Condensation of Vapors
  • System Leaks from Pipes, Valves, or Tanks

Soil Contamination

These contaminants can also end up in the soil near a plant and can create dangers. The Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable says that TNT is a common hidden contaminant in some soil that can trigger a massive explosion. Trinitrobenzene (TNB) can also be found in the dirt surrounding some military compounds and may be identified near an industrial plant. Other dangerous sediments that the FRTR has discovered in soils include Dinitrobenzene, 2,4-dinitrotoluene (DNT), and 2,6-DNT. If you want more information about soil contamination, you should talk to an industrial injury attorney to get an extensive list of soil pollutants that can trigger fires and explosions.

Air Pollution

In addition to these concerns, contaminants and harmful chemicals in the air can react at industrial plants and facilitate a blaze or explosion. United Air Specialists reports that combustible dusts can often move through the air, causing a substantial threat to worker and plant safety throughout the U.S. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has identified 281 combustible dust incidents that have led to at least 119 deaths and 718 injuries.

Dust explosions happen when the oxygen, fuel, and ignition source are all present in just the right mixture in order to facilitate an explosion. Often, the dust can serve as a fuel that can spark a reaction that can be damaging to both the facility and workers in the area. It is much easier for dust particles to facilitate a fire than an explosion, but with the right amount of dust, confinement, oxygen fuel, and an ignition source, a blaze is possible.

The OSHA says that proper planning and system design, as well as property maintenance and the operation of dust collection systems after installation, can minimize the chance of an explosion from dust particles of this nature. If you are employed at an industrial plant and are concerned about the dust collection within the facility, you need to speak with an authority about your situation. If no preventative measures are taken, and an accident occurs, then you may be able to hold your employer responsible because your concerns were not addressed as they should have been.

Talk to an Industrial Injury Attorney from Arnold & Itkin LLP

If you have been injured at an industrial plant due to an explosion, a fire, or another event that caused danger and put you in harm's way, then you need to seek compensation. The hardworking industrial injury attorneys at Arnold & Itkin have been able to obtain billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements. When you want a dedicated and hardworking attorney to assist you in your case, you will want an aggressive lawyer from this firm on your side. The firm understands that many intricate details of industrial injury law, and they can help you with your situation today.

Call the firm at (888) 493-0401 to receive a free consultation today!

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