Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wood Pellet Mill Explosion

Mill Explosion Injures Three | From Powder/Bulk Solids

Mill Explosion Injures Three

October 13, 2014
Three mill workers were injured Thursday morning in an explosion at a wood pellet plant in northern British Columbia that was recently fined for "repeated" safety violations.

According to Leroy Reitsma, president of Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc., the incident happened at about 8am at a facility near Burns Lake operated by the company. Three workers were injured – one seriously.

The cause of the fire was unknown, but was said to have started inside a drying machine during a maintenance shutdown. An investigation is ongoing
Two fatal explosions in 2012 at the Burns Lake facility and one in Prince George were linked to combustible wood dust. It is not known if wood dust was the cause of Thursday’s explosion.

The plant was the site of another explosion in 2012. No one was injured in that incident, which occurred in a different area of the plant.

Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc. has been cited several times in the past year for dust buildup at several facilities –including the Burns Lake plant – and was the site of a previous explosion in 2012. No one was injured in that explosion.

For related articles, news, and equipment reviews, visit our Explosion Protection & Safety Equipment Zone

Monday, November 24, 2014

Grain Dust Labeled a Hazardous Chemical

Grain and other Combustible Dusts are now Labeled as Hazardous Chemical


Grain Dust Labeled a Hazardous Chemical?

Defending Agriculture

New regulations mean dust at grain elevators may be treated like hazardous chemical release

Published on: November 12, 2014
In late October the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an opinion supporting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on regulating businesses that handle and process grain and other agricultural products which create dust.

The case was a challenge to OSHA's revised Hazard Communication Standard, which in effect states that grain dust is a hazardous chemical. But you may want a little background on how the  Government's regulatory wheels spin before this makes much sense.

OSHA already sets workplace requirements for the control of grain dust which may create fires, explosions and safety hazards associated with grain handling facilities.  OSHA's present rule applies to grain elevators, feed mills, flour mills, rice mills, pelletizing plants, dry corn mills, soybean flaking operations, and dry grinding operations of soy cake.  The 1987 rule made it clear that such facilities are to control fugitive grain dust which was defined as combustible dust particles of a certain size.

New regulations mean dust at grain elevators may be treated like hazardous chemical release
New regulations mean dust at grain elevators may be treated like hazardous chemical release

Also, OSHA has been told by Congress to keep its hands off of farm grain storage operations with 10 or fewer employees.

The OSHA Act of 1970 allows the Secretary of Labor to promulgate work place safety and health standards. The Act wants "…to insure that employees are apprised of all hazards to which they are exposed."

With this background, OSHA in 2012 issued a "Hazard Communication Standard".
The revised standard simply required all employers across industries to develop a program for classifying the dangers of workplace hazardous chemicals and conveying those dangers to their employees.

The National Oilseed Processors and the American Feed Industry Association challenged the rule. OSHA said it was issuing the rule to conform to the Globally Harmonized System.

OSHA said that combustible dust is a dangerous hazardous chemical. OSHA further noted that "dusts are known to be subject to deflagration and subsequent explosion…" However, OSHA did not include in this proposed HCS rule a definition of combustible dust.

The petitioners objected to the HCS rule and noted that OSHA in 2009 issued a proposed rule on combustible dust which has yet to be issued by the Agency.

Incredible admission

The three-judge panel on the court made an incredible admission when it suggested it has difficulty with such cases involving dust from agricultural products. It said such regulations are "…rooted in
inferences from complex scientific and factual data, which often necessarily involve highly speculative projections of technological development in areas wholly lacking in scientific and economic certainty."

In essence the court was saying it does not understand the factual background at all.

The petitioners contended they had no opportunity to comment on the inclusion of combustible dust from grain in the final HCS rule because combustible grain dust was not mentioned in the proposed rule.

The court made it clear that industry knows very well what constitutes combustible dust. It tells industry petitioners that they need only to read from OSHA's National Emphasis Program which defines combustible dust as well as agricultural dust.

Agricultural dust is defined as "any finely divided solid agricultural material 420 microns or smaller in diameter…that presents a fire or explosion hazard when dispersed and ignited in air." The petitioners were told they need not worry about the HCS not defining combustible dust because there were plenty of definitions and industry only need to read and follow them.

The trade associations also claimed the new rule violated constitutional due process because the term "combustible dust" is not sufficiently clear. The court made short work of this argument by simply
saying your argument fails on the merits.

OSHA's rule and the Court of Appeals make it clear combustible dust is a hazardous chemical. Both made clear that employers must control fugitive dust which may become combustible. As a result, grain dust must be treated just as any hazardous chemical release.

The opinions of Gary Baise are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

The opinions above are not necessarily those of

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Spontaneous Combustion Destroys Grain Plant


Spontaneous Combustion Destroys Grain Plant

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 1:26pm


— Investigators in western New York say spontaneous combustion of
animal feed started the fire that destroyed a large grain mill and
storage facility operated by Minnesota-based Land O' Lakes. Fire crews
from more than two dozen departments battled the fire that broke out
Saturday night at Commodity Resource Corp. in the Livingston County town
of Caledonia, 15 miles south of Rochester.

The company says the site is the largest dairy feed manufacturing
facility and dry fertilizer distribution center in the region. The plant
was closed at the time of the fire.

On Tuesday, Caledonia Deputy Chief John Murray told media outlets the
fire was caused by spontaneous combustion. That's the same thing that
sparked a September fire at a Cargill feed plant in Salem near the
Vermont border.