The Worst Workplace Explosions in U.S. History
While there are many different types of workplaces in the United States, some are considerably more dangerous than others – especially those with an increased risk of fires or explosions. The construction, manufacturing, and oil and gas industries are examples of workplaces in which this threat is always present. Here are some of the top workplace explosion in our nation’s history.
Centralia Mining Disaster of 1947
In 1947, a coal mine in Centralia, Illinois exploded, resulting in the death of 111 people due to burn injuries and other serious damages. There were 142 workers in the mine at the time of the explosion. Following the explosion, Congress addressed mine safety, calling on the Bureau of Mines to regulate the inspection of mines to ensure that no federal code violations were present.
Texas City Disaster of 1947
Just three weeks after the Centralia Mining Disaster, the SS Grandcamp in the Port of Texas City caught fire. Roughly 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate was detonated, resulting in fires and explosions killing 581 people. The first explosion ignited some 961 tons of ammonium nitrate on the nearby SS High Flyer. In all, more than 5,000 people were injured and over 500 homes were destroyed.
Texas City Refinery Explosion of 2005
The BP Texas City Refinery caught fire and exploded on March 23, 2005, resulting in 15 worker fatalities and more than 170 injuries. The company was charged for violating federal environmental crime laws and the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) instituted an $87 million fine. Nearly two years later, reports revealed that the company did not distinguish the differences between occupational and process safety.
Imperial Sugar Refinery Explosion of 2008
On February 7, 2008, the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Georgia exploded. The dust explosion resulted in 38 injured workers – many of whom suffered life-threatening burn injuries – and 14 deaths. The four-story building was located on the Savannah River bank and it was the second largest in the United States. Many workers claimed that the factory had machines dating back 28 years prior to the explosion. There were 112 workers on-site when the structure exploded.
Macondo Blowout and Explosion of 2010
The Macondo Blowout and Explosion occurred on April 20, 2010, in which an oil rig caught fire and exploded. Eleven workers were killed. It also resulted in an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. There were 126 crew members on the rig, which was situated just 50 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana.
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