Molten metal explosions have occurred from the very beginning of our industry. They continue to this day. Explosions occur for a myriad of reasons. Including but not limited to: moisture entraption, foreign substances, shockwaves. Here is a recent incident that emphasizes the hazard associated with molten metal explosions. Please note at the end of the story we will have commentary and thoughts on this catastrophe.
One day during the week of September 6, 2020 an explosion occurred in the melting and casting workshop of an aluminium company in the Gansu Provence in Northwest China. As of press time, the accident has caused 3 deaths and 7 injuries. On one afternoon an "Emergency Call" visited the core site of the explosion and observed the casting workshop after the explosion from the air and from the ground: The workshop was located on the north side of aluminum's factory area. The explosion caused a mess of the plant and serious damage to the equipment and equipment in the workshop. There are rows of residential buildings and shops around the explosion site. Monitoring recorded the moment of the explosion. The flash illuminates the sky at the moment of the explosion, and then the shock wave "hit" the concave rolling door, and a large number of building doors and windows were damaged.
We offer our sincere condolences to the family, friends, and coworkers of the dead. We pray that their pain on their loss overtime lessens. We pray that they remember their loved ones for how they lived and not how they died. We pray that the injured workers recover fully from their injuries. If their injuries prevent them from performing their previous job. We hope the aluminium company offers them a role that they can perform with the same pay.
Now let’s talk about this explosion. What happened? Several news articles state that the explosion was “a cooling water flashing production safety accident occurred due to improper operation of the workers on site”. That information does not provide a root cause but it does state “cooling water”. Unexpected release of cooling water has been a contributing cause of several explosions in our industry. The quote "improper operation of the workers on site" is a blanket statement commonly used immediately after an incident. We are confident that the follow up government investigative report will either confirm or refute that statement. The editors of this blog have spoken to thousands of casthouse workers on the importance of following your training, and never to skip steps.
Next the casthouse is destroyed. It can not be rebuilt. Why? Because these large explosions occur with such force that they destroy the foundations of the building. Once the foundation is destroyed the building cannot be used again. It is simply cheaper and easier to rebuild. We would expect this building to be demolished within months.
Damage to surrounding commercial and residential buildings has been reported as extensive. We would expect that all glass windows and doors within 2+ kilometers radius would be broke. Normally explosions of similar force injure dozens if not hundreds of nearby residents would be injured by flying glass. Thankfully there was no employee housing next to the casthouse. If there were the fatality count would have been significantly higher. Employee housing should never be constructed near a casthouse, foundry or any department that handles molten metal.
We challenge our readers to ask their casthouse, melt shop, foundry departments the following question. How can a molten metal explosion occur in your department? That should bring about a good discussion on this hazard. Please note, if your department responds “we never had an explosion in the past, we won’t have one”. Be scared, very scared. Any department that handles molten metal but fails to acknowledge the hazard of molten metal explosions should have their management replaced. We acknowledge that the previous statement is strong, but we know of too many departments that suffered a molten metal explosion after denying this hazard exists in their workplace.
Lastly, please do not fall into the trap of “well this is China” this explosion could not happen in our country. That assumption has been proven wrong countless times. The Aluminium Plant Safety Blog has posted serious explosions from every continent (except Antarctica). The editors of this blog have even written papers on the topic that explosions are not isolated to one specific region in our industry.
We will update this story as more information is brought forth.