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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 825109 - Employee Killed As Pulp Storage Tank Collapses

Accident: 825109 -- Report ID: 0352420 -- Event Date: 01/30/1987
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
1885970201/31/19872621Westvaco Corporation Fine Papers Division
At approximately 3:00 p.m. on January 30, 1987, Employee #1, an assistant pulp mill superintendent, and a paper mill engineer calculated that the Nucel tank was just about full of pulp slurry. The engineer tried several times to start the pump underneath the tank without success. He noticed that the tank had begun to overflow and ran to the hydropulper unit to shut off the pumps that were pumping the pulp slurry into the tank. Shortly after 3:00 p.m., a pulp mill tour foreman, in the alley adjacent to the Nucel tank, heard a rumble and saw steam come out around the tank. The engineer ran back to the tank and saw that it had collapsed. The tank had come down approximately 7 ft and was resting on its cone-shaped bottom, leaning against two other tanks known as silos #2 and #3. Employee #1 has been in the compartment in the base of the tank when it collapsed. The engineer, the pulp mill tour foreman, and a staffer were able to see his head and hand. Employee #1 was lying face down, pinned under the tank and covered with debris. A crane was used to lift the tank and Employee #1 was removed and pronounced dead at the scene by a plant physician. Compression from the weight had buckled the metal tank like an accordion around the base, which was weak because the bottom six inches of it were corroded. The tank was coated with an epoxy type finish and looked as though it were in good condition. It contained 125,000 gallon of pulp slurry weighing 1,100,000 lb. The tank was designed and constructed by Chicago Bridge and Iron, Hinsdale, IL, to carry between three and four times that much weight. The 25 ft diameter and 60 ft 15/32 in. high and originally 3/8 in. thick tank had been in use since 1960.
Keywords: collapse, inadequate maint, pinned, work rules, storage tank, corrosion, buried
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 18859702 Fatality Other Mixing and blending machine operators

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