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Canadian company fined C$56,000 over pellet plant explosion that injured three

04 January 2016

British Columbia’s workers’ safety authority fined a company C$56,000 after a 2014 explosion at a wood pellet plant that injured three workers. WorkSafeBC imposed the penalty on Pinnacle Renewable Energy of Burns Lake, B.C., after an investigation concluded the company failed to maintain safe working conditions and to exercise due diligence.

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The investigation concluded that workers failed to follow procedures before opening up a dryer door during a routine burner cleaning, including shutting off a combustion fan before the equipment had cooled sufficiently. Pinnacle also did not provide adequate safety information, training and supervision, the report found.

The report said the facility's production superintendent had directed a worker to abandon the control room to help with the clean out, leaving no one to monitor as temperatures rose to dangerously high levels. The temperature in the dryer chamber climbed to 358 degrees Celsius, far higher than the 80 C stipulated in the manufacturer's instructions before the door can be safely opened.

The report concluded the explosion was caused by a build up of gases in the burner, sparked by a combination of residual heat and a sudden inflow of oxygen.

The three workers standing outside the dryer door were knocked off their feet and suffered burns as a result of the blast.

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