CSB Safety Video: Fire in the Valley

March 21, 2011

Video Description

U.S. Chemical Safety Board safety video depicting events leading to the August 28, 2008, catastrophic explosion and fire at the Bayer CropScience facility in Institute, WV, that fatally injured two workers and injured eight.

The explosion occurred as a result of a runaway chemical reaction inside a 4,500 gallon residue treater located inside the facility's Methomyl-Larvin insecticide unit.. The reaction caused the pressure vessel to explode, releasing highly flammable solver, which caught fire immediately and burned for over 4 hours. The runaway chemical reaction, and resulting explosion, occurred while the unit was being started up after an extended outage.

The CSB investigation team determined that the incident was a result of deviation from the written start-up procedures. Other factors that contributed to the incident, include:

  • An inadequate pre start-up safety review
  • Inadequate operator training on the newly installed control system
  • Unevaluated temporary changes, malfunctioning or missing equipment, misaligned valves, and bypassed critical safety devices
  • Insufficient technical expertise available in the control room during the restart

The final Investigation Report, Pesticide Chemical Runaway Reaction Pressure Vessel Explosion, was released by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board in January 2011.

About the Chemical Safety Board

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. CSB investigations examine all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems. The Board does not issue citations or fines but makes safety recommendations to companies, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA.

For more information, please visit or contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen at or by phone at 202.446.8095.

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