Fireball set off explosion

A textbook example of a flash fire, explosion, secondary explosion, and criminal negligence from the Sarnia Observer.

"the amount of dust in the air made it impossible to see from one end of the shop to the other."



Trial continues Monday

Fireball set off explosion in Veolia shop

By Neil Bowen, Sarnia Observer

A fireball from an explosion in a dust collector set off another explosion inside a Sarnia shop during a 2014 incident that killed one worker and injured others.

Veolia Environmental Services and a company manager, Anthony Lavoratore, were charged with criminal negligence following the Oct. 25, 2014 fire and explosion that killed 37-year-old Jason Miller.

Miller was one of six men injured. He died days later in hospital.

Charges were laid in 2015 and the trial began during January in Sarnia court but has been spread over many days during the past seven months.

The shop was used to melt aluminum wire and spray it on pipes as an anti-corrosion treatment. Dust was created during the process.

A worker has testified the amount of dust in the air made it impossible to see from one end of the shop to the other.

The dust is combustible but the Material Safety Data Sheet for the wire being used cited no explosive hazard.

The incident began with a flash fire outside a dust collector parked outside the Scott Road shop. Then there was an explosion inside the collector that set a fireball rolling across the parking lot.
The fireball also went into the shop through a partially opened overhead door and flexible rubber ducts sucking dust from the shop and into the collector.

The dust in the collector could have been ignited by a hot particle sucked from the shop, static electricity inside the collector or friction created by an auger moving dust through the collector, said James Bennett, a technical expert from the Office of the Fire Marshal who testified Wednesday.
There was no way to determine which possible source ignited the dust. Bennett had examined the scene on the day after the explosion and reviewed a video recording of the explosion captured by a surveillance camera at an adjacent building.

Dust was the only available fuel for the explosions, said Bennett.

The force of the dust collector explosion sent dust into the air inside the shop that was ignited by the fireball.

It took just one second for the second explosion to occur, said Bennett referring to the time recording on the video.

The second explosion damaged the walls, windows and roof of the shop.
“It was a fairly significant explosion,” said Bennett.

Inside the shop there was a very fine, whitish gray material on the floor. Water had turned the material, aluminum dust, almost into a mud, said Bennett referring to his site examination.

The water inside and around the building came from the firefighting following the explosion.
Bennett rejected a suggestion by defence lawyers dust from the collector was carried into the shop and feed the second explosion. It would not have been enough to create the size of the explosion that occurred, said Bennett.

Bennett was the last Crown witness scheduled for this week and the case was adjourned until Monday.

Two more Crown witnesses are expected to testify.

It is anticipated all Crown and defence evidence will finish next week. Written submissions to the judge will be done prior to October. The lawyers’ final courtroom submissions to the judge are expected in October.

nbowen@postmedia.com

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