Three men died and seven others were injured in an explosion at Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) in DeRidder, LA on February 8. William Rolls Jr., 32; Jody L. Gooch, 40; and Sedrick Stallworth, 42 died in an explosion that occurred while their contract team performed welding on a tank during a facility shutdown for maintenance.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has sent a three-person investigative team to investigate the incident which occurred at 11:10 a.m. at PCA’s Container Board Mill located off of Highway 190 in DeRidder. “Hot work” incidents, which include welding, are the most common source of worker fatalities investigated by the CSB – and the most preventable, the agency told KFDM.com.
The CSB is an independent federal agency whose mission is to protect people and the environment by improving chemical safety. After a 2008 explosion at a PCA plant in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, the CSB created materials on how to prevent such accidents including a safety bulletin called “Seven Key Lessons to Prevent Worker Deaths during Hot Work In and Around Tanks.” and a safety video called “Dangers of Hot Work.”
Six of the seven people who were injured were treated and released from the hospital. The seventh person remains hospitalized.
PCA released the following statement about the accident:
“At approximately 11:10 am CST, Wednesday, February 8th, there was an explosion at our DeRidder, LA paper mill. The incident involved annual repair work being performed on piping in the pulp mill area and resulted in three contractor fatalities. The cause of the incident is under investigation.
Our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of the people working on our site. The top priorities at this time are the notification of families of the deceased contractors and investigation of the incident with authorities.
At the time of the incident, the D1 machine was down for its annual outage and the D3 machine was running and continues to operate. The current assessment indicates that the annual outage work is expected to be delayed by up to one week and the mill will then resume full operation. Further information will be provided, as appropriate, when it becomes available.”