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Chemical Brominator Rupture

A chemical company was contracted to maintain the cooling water system at an automotive stamping plant.  The cooling water system automatically dosed treatment chemicals into the cooling water to maintain the proper water chemistry.  One component of the water treatment system was a brominator tank.  This used an oxidizer containing bromine (analogous to chlorine bleach) to control bacteria and algae in the water.  The brominator tank was made of fiberglass and was rated to hold 150 psi pressure.

There were several drums of another oxidizer chemical left at the plant from an earlier treatment system.  The plant decided to inject these chemicals into the water system rather than dispose of them as hazardous waste.  The injection point was upstream of the brominator.  Injecting the chemical into the water treatment system resulted in concentrated chemical entering the brominator.  Experiments conducted by ESi showed that mixing this chemical with the bromine oxidizer caused a runaway chemical reaction that resulted in the rupture of the tank and subsequent explosion.

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