Monday, April 9, 2018

"molten metal flew and started pallets and cardboard boxes on fire....."

Though no one was injured in this incident we chose to omit the company name because our comments may sound negative. So with that introduction here we go. On our travels throughout our industry we find that companies that handle smaller mass of molten metal are less concerned with molten metal explosions than companies that handle large volumes of molten metal. Here is the story:

An explosion that “sounded a lot worse than it actually was,” according to Fire Chief, shut down aluminium foundry in the USA one day during the week of March 25, 2018 for a couple of hours, resulted in the evacuation of area businesses, and the closing of a small portion of a nearby avenue in the city.

However, there were no injuries from the incident and minimal damage from a small fire.

The fire chief said the aluminium foundry has a small melter that contains five to eight gallons of molten metal which exploded and threw some of the molten metal to areas around the area and started a few pallets and cardboard on fire.

Though there were initial media reports about potential chemical leaks at the site, fire chief said nothing of that level occurred. He also said that once the situation was evaluated, it was determined there was no potential for any other explosions as the incident was segregated to a small area of the building.

“We were able to get in there and get the fire knocked down pretty quickly. Nobody was hurt. The staff there did a good job. They heard the explosion and got their people out of there right away. It only damaged one small area of their building and they were up and running. When we left there, the employees were back in – some were doing cleanup – but the others were back in doing whatever their normal jobs are.

The local Fire Department was assisted by the two other fire departments. The fire departments were on-scene for a little more than a couple of hours.

“Of course, our police department was there to help,” Fire department said about that department’s efforts to help evacuate a few area businesses. The police also closed down a nearby avenue while the fire department personnel secured the scene inside the building.

“The police department did a nice job, but as it turned out, this was not a huge incident.”

“For a run like this we usually have two or three of our [trucks] and normally get help during the day from two other fire departments, so it was very normal for what we had going to the fire call. We didn’t need to ask for anything above and beyond what we normally would get for a fire call.”

We are glad that no one was injured in this incident and the fire was able to be extinguished. Foundries, die casting companies, etc. that typically handle smaller volumes of molten metal have to acknowledge the potential of molten metal explosions. The failure to acknowledge this potential hazard results in making their facilities less safe.

This incident involving only 5-8 gallons of molten metal could have easily burned down the facility. Why? Because the Aluminum Plant Safety Blog has posted incident after incident involving molten metal explosions at die casting plants and foundries that resulted in large fires. In some instances we have posted stories that resulted with fatal incidents. We have known workers to die from molten metal explosions involving only a few pounds of molten metal.

This explosion could have occurred for a myriad of reasons. Most common are contaminates, moisture entraption, or metal spilled onto bare concrete, steel or stainless steel substrate. Please note that we recommend Wise Chem coatings be applied anywhere molten metal can come into contact with molten metal on bare steel, concrete or  stainless steel. We pray that this company does investigation to determine what caused the explosion.

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