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Report into Kentucky whiskey distillery blast blames over-pressurisation of still

29 July 2015

The results of an official investigation by the Kentucky State Fire Marshal’s office into the cause of the Silver Trail Distillery explosion in late April have been released. The incident resulted in devastation to the Hardin, Marshall County, distillery and the death of one senior distiller, with another staff member seriously injured.

Stock image
Stock image

The report says the incident was caused by the over-pressurisation of a still that was neither designed to hold pressure nor equipped with a correct pressure relief valve, which likely led to the rupture and subsequent fatal fire.

The report states: “All indications are that the event directly involved the over- pressurization of the still with subsequent failure which resulted in it being propelled out the north end of the structure.”

The rupture is believed to have caused the contents of the still to reach high temperatures that resulted in burn injuries to the two employees.

Further, the report states that an information sheet for this particular model of still states that, “Each Revenoor Still is built with a safety valve and operated on less than one pound of pressure.”

Deputy state fire marshal Bill Compton, who conducted the investigation, stated in the report, “This is in direct contradiction to the rating listed on the valve installed.”

Silver Trail is blaming the still provider, Revenoor, and says it will be asking the state to convene a grand jury to decide if criminal charges should be filed.

The distillery owners say they have been cleared by federal, state agencies to operate again when the facilities have been rebuilt.

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