The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board released an investigation report into the fatal tank explosions at Midland Resource Recover facility in Philippi.
The Chemical Safety Board determined the probable cause for the explosions was reactive and unstable chemicals exploding while staff tried to drain equipment. The CSB found that the “MRR lacked an effective safety management system to identify and control hazards from reactive chemicals.” As well, the facility had no formal hazard identification process and lacked safeguards to prevent unexpected or uncontrolled chemical reactions.
An explosion on May 24th, 2017 killed the founder of MRR and one other employee. As well, one employee was injured. The CSB began investigating the incident, and during that investigation, on June 20th, 2017, a second explosion occurred. Fatally injuring a contractor employed to perform investigation and mitigation work at the Philippi facility.
The report outlines legal barriers between the contractors employed by MRR to investigate the explosion and CSB staff. The report details CSB investigators took shelter behind shipping containers during the investigations, lacking faith that the contractors or MRR understood the cause of the original explosion.
Investigators were not able to determine what the exact chemical reactions were that caused the explosions. According to the report, in November of 2019, MRR confirmed they stopped using reactive chemicals.
By Joe Buchanan WDTV