Accident Reporting September 2017 – April 2018

Explosion at ammunition depot and major evacuations (Kalynivka, Ukraine, 26 September 2017)

A series of explosions occurred at a military base near Kalynivka, Vinnytsa at 10pm (local time) on Tuesday 26th September 2017. Two people were reported as injured. More than 30,000 people were evacuated within a radius of 30 miles.  Several houses and vehicles have been destroyed.
The military base stores artillery shells, bullets and rockets. Approximately 40 % (33,600 to. gross weight) of the stored ammunition was destroyed. 
Initial reports from the Ukrainian government considered sabotage as the reason, blaming the incident on Russia or separatist forces. Drones could have been used like in a similar event in Balaklijain December 2015. A drone carrying an incendiary device was found within the ammunition depot surrounding fences. Two other cases were reported in 2015 (at Balaklija) and 2016 (at Kuibyshevsky). A further explosion at the Balaklija Ammunition depot happened on 23rd March 2017. General insufficient storage conditions and decreasing condition of the ammunition also needs to be taken into consideration. MSIAC have provided assistance to Ukraine by hosting presentations to delegates on the relevant NATO standards and best practice in safety management systems.

Explosion at fireworks factory (Tangerang, Indonesia, 26 October 2017)

On 26 October 2017 an explosion occurred at a fireworks manufacturing factory in Kosambi, Tangerang, Indonesia. The explosion resulted in a large fire and at least 49 people were killed. 43 people were reported as injured. It is reported that a spark from welding contacted 4,000kg of gunpowder.

The investigation identified that the factory was registered as a toy factory and was only licensed to hire 10 employees. Instead 103 employees were working there, including child labourers.

High explosive pellet pressing incident (US, 4 February 2018)

An accidental initiation of PBX9501 was reported at the 2018 IM/EM Technical Symposium.  The incident occurred at Los Alamos National Laboratory in March, during a routine pellet pressing operation.  Los Alamos personnel stressed that the 9501 material in question has been used to press hundreds-of-thousands of pellets over the past 20+ years with no similar incidents. An operator was preparing to press 1” x 1” PBX 9501 (23.6g) pellets when a metal fatigue sound was heard and the sample exploded. The operator and an escort were in the laboratory, 10-12 feet from the press. Both were behind a shield consisting of ½” Lexan, ¼” air gap and another ½” Lexan plate. Both were unharmed. Three hypotheses were put forward for the root cause, none of which have yet been ruled out:

  1. The PBX 9501 was at fault in some way.
  2. The stemple was cocked in the die, gouging the die polish and creating friction heating.
  3. The die body or stemple cracked and failed.

Improvements are being investigated into shielding; formalising non-destructive testing and die maintenance; as well as hearing protection.

Four injured during testing (Bertrix, Belgium, 24 April 2018)

Four soldiers were wounded at the Jéhonville base in Bertrix, Belgium. During a renovation operation, a rocket (apparently a Light Anti-Tank Weapon) was triggered accidentally. 1 soldier was seriously injured in the leg and another 3 were treated for hearing problems. The rocket did not explode and military specialists were called in to carry out the disposal. An area with a radius of 50 meters was cordoned off. The cause of the accident is being investigated.

In July 2011, an explosion of mortar shell bursts occurred in the same depot and two suffered minor injuries.