The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) recently announced that we, the NFPA, exceeded its recommended actions following the February 7, 2010, deadly natural gas explosion at the Kleen Energy electric plant – then under construction in Middletown, Connecticut. The blast, which killed six workers and injured at least 50, resulted during an operation known as a “gas blow”—whereby large quantities of natural gas are forced through piping at high pressure to remove debris. The gas accumulated and was ignited by an undetermined source.
The CSB issued an urgent recommendation in June 2010 calling on the NFPA to revise its National Fuel Gas Code (also known as NFPA 54) to prohibit this inherently unsafe pipe cleaning methodology. In response, we proposed and developed a comprehensive new gas process safety standard, NFPA 56, “Standard for Fire and Explosion Prevention During Cleaning and Purging of Flammable Gas Piping Systems” using an expedited standards development process.
CSB Chairperson Dr. Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “We heartily commend the NFPA for acting promptly and decisively in adopting the CSB recommendation in record time. NFPA issued a provisional standard in 24 weeks, which was less than 18 months after the accident. NFPA moved it through the document’s revision cycle smoothly, formally publishing the NFPA 56 2014 edition last August. Our board recently voted unanimously to close this recommendation as “Exceeds recommended action” – our highest level of approval.”
Dr. Moure-Eraso noted that the NFPA’s action now means that 14 of the 18 recommendations issued by the CSB following the Kleen Energy accident are now closed.
Safety videos on these accidents, the investigation reports and list of CSB safety recommendations may be found on www.CSB.gov.