OHS Canada Magazine

Gas tank explodes at recycling plant, but no one injured

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July 12, 2016
By Jeff Cottrill

Hazmat Health & Safety bc british columbia burnaby explosion firefighters occupational health and safety WorkSafeBC

Acetylene tank made contact with shearing machine

(Canadian OH&S News) — An accident resulted in a small explosion and fire at a recycling plant in Burnaby, B.C. on the morning of July 6, but contrary to early reports, no workers were injured in the incident.

The outdoor explosion took place when an acetylene tank was placed near a shearing machine at the ABC Recycling plant on Meadow Avenue, according to information from the City of Burnaby Fire Department, which responded to the plant’s 9-1-1 call at around 8:00 a.m.

The fire was small and did not spread to a building, and firefighters contained it quickly. Officials from WorkSafeBC, British Columbia’s oh&s authority, were also called to the scene, and the organization is investigating the incident.

“When we arrived, there was a sprinkler system there,” a source with the Fire Department said. “The bottom half of the tank was missing.”

The source added that the tank, which was crushed in the explosion, was found more than 20 metres away from where it had been sheared.


Initial reports stated that the accident had injured a male machine operator employed with ABC. But Trish Knight Chernecki, WorkSafeBC’s senior manager of media and government relations, said that this was an exaggeration.

“They were concerned about a worker, and they took him to hospitals to check him over for observation, but it wasn’t an injured worker at all,” said Chernecki. “He’s fine.”

ABC did not respond to COHSN’s request for comment.

The company, which has eight other locations in the province, began in 1912 as a scrap-peddling business in Vancouver. ABC began shifting from salvage to recycling during the 1970s, according to information from its website.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) in Hamilton, Ont. cautions about the flammable and explosive qualities of compressed gases such as acetylene. “Acetylene is chemically very unstable. Even at atmospheric pressure, acetylene gas can explode,” the CCOHS website states.

“If exposed to slight temperature or pressure increases, or mechanical shock, they can readily undergo certain types of chemical reactions such as polymerization or decomposition,” the site adds about dangerously reactive gases such as acetylene and methyl acetylene. “These reactions may become violent, resulting in fire or explosion. Some dangerously reactive gases have other chemicals, called inhibitors, added to prevent these hazardous reactions.”


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