Accidents January - March 2013
8 January 2013 - Spain
Province of Biscay, greater Bilbao, Gal-dakao. Maxam Europe SA. An employee was seriously injured in an explosion at the Maxam company in Galdakao. Shortly before quarter past five, there was an explosion in a laboratory of the company and as a result, a worker was seriously injured and was evacuated by ambulance to the Hospital de Cruces Osakidetza, where s/he treated for burns sustained to the face, chest and arms. The Maxam group is dedicated to the manufacture of explosives, hunting cartridges, and the defence industry.
16 January 2013 - France
Doubs (25), Valdahon. A 22-year-old soldier from the Huitième Régiment d’Artillerie at Commercy, in the Meuse, was fatally injured while taking part in a mortar firing exercise at the Valdahon camp. The young man, who belonged to a regiment in another camp, but was on manoeuvres at Doubs, was killed around 10:25. According to the State Prosecutor in Besançon, Alain Saffar, it seems that a mortar shell did not properly engage in the launching tube. It was while trying to remove the shell to reposition it that the explosion occurred, the shell passing through the victim, who died instantly. An inquiry was opened by the base authorities and by the criminal court in Besançon.
28 January 2013 - Spain
Galicia region, Pontevedra province, Pontevedra city, O Burgo. About 15:00, a planned explosion where construction is going on the AVE high-speed rail line somehow went wrong. The force of the blast shifted a flood of rubble more than two hundred metres from where the controlled explosion occurred. The rain of stones crashed into several houses, and even damaged at least two moving vehicles. Apparently, both drivers were halted at the direction of the workers. One of them ended with shattered rear window. Also, a large stone hit an old, deserted house, causing a hole in the roof. Local police, which dispatched several patrols, said they suspected everything could be due to misplacement of the protective cover on the payload.
7 February 2013 - Yemen
170 km (106 mi) north of Sanaa, city of Abss. A Yemeni military official said an explosion at a military weapons depot in the city of Abss in northern Yemen killed 10 civilians and soldiers. Among the dead were two children and five soldiers. He also said that shrapnel hit a nearby village, demolishing parts of three houses and injuring at least seven people.
15 February 2013 - Mexico
Puebla, Palmar de Bravo municipality. A man died and a woman was treated for minor injuries and nervous breakdown after the explosion in a 5m2 clandestine magazine in the town of Palmar de Bravo. The state director of Civil Protection, Jesus Morales, said the accident was reported in the community of San Miguel Xaltepec. He said the place was a sweatshop for pyrotechnics. According to the state body, the events occurred about 17:10.
19 February 2013 - Italy
Lombardy, province of Lecco, Lecco. Fiocchi Munizioni SpA. A woman was burned in the hand by an explosion in an ammunition factory. The incident occurred at the Fiocchi Munizioni factory in Lecco.
The details of what happened have yet to be ascertained exactly, but the early findings indicate that the 40-year old resident of the city, an official of the well-known company, was making routine checks in chemical laboratories. She was running tests on the safety of explosives used for filling cartridges, but something went wrong. The noise affected the technical specialist and two other people with her, who fortunately suffered no other injuries.
26 February 2013 - USA
MD, Aberdeen Proving Ground. US Navy. Two Navy divers were killed while they were in the UNDEX Testing Facility, commonly known as the Super Pond, an underwater explosion test facility. A Public Affairs Officer said that personnel from the Aberdeen Proving Ground Emergency Services responded around 14:30. Once on the scene, one victim was declared deceased, while a second victim was taken to a local hospital and then pronounced dead. A Navy spokes said the two sailors were based at joint base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia, and were performing routine diving operations at the time of their deaths. One source said the divers were in cardiac arrest when they sur-faced, and had been working in the pond on air hoses, not self-contained breathing units, and were tethered to each other.
Shortly before 22:00, the Navy confirmed that two sailors from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit, (MDSU) Two “died while conducting diving operations in Maryland”. Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group Two said it was conducting an investigation into the deaths.
27 February 2013 - Germany
Niedersachsen/Lower Saxony, Kunigunde. Warno Schwarzpulver GmbH. One employee was injured in an explosion at the Warno gunpowder plant in Kunigunde. The man suffered serious burns and was flown by helicopter to the special clinic of Hannover Medical School. Property damage was estimated at up to 300,000 euro. The accident occurred at 11:50 in the production area. The victim, who had worked for the business for about four years and was experienced, was working on a machine to crush pressed black powder. Here, a spark was created which caused the explosion.
11 March 2013 - Germany
Bayern/Bavaria, Aschau. Nitrochemie Aschau GmbH. An unexpected detonation of explosives occurred in the early hours in a rolling building at Nitrochemie Aschau. A staff worker suffered cuts that had to be stitched. A second employee had to be treated for acute acoustic trauma. The incident resulted in substantial property damage.
There was no fire, and there was never a danger to other employees and the general public. The cause of the explosion is still under investigation by police investigators from Waldkraiburg.
18 March 2013 - USA
A NV, western Nevada, Hawthorne Army Depot. A mortar explosion at an Army munitions depot in Nevada killed seven Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and injured eight other service members during a live-fire training exercise.
A Marine Corps official said a 60mm mortar round exploded prematurely during training at the Hawthorne Army Depot in western Nevada. The cause was under investigation. Brigadier General Jim Lukeman told a news conference in North Carolina: “The Marines were conducting live fire and manoeuvre training at the Hawthorne Army depot. A mortar round exploded in the mortar tube, causing the deaths of seven. … We don’t know yet what caused this malfunction.” The Marine Corps ordered a blanket suspension of the use of 60mm mortars pending a review of the incident, Marine Corps spokeswoman Captain Kendra Motz said in a statement.
Facility manager Russ Collier said the explosion occurred close to 22:00 during an exercise at the Hawthorne depot, about 92 miles southeast of Reno. The Marines described the mortar involved as lightweight, and said it was typically fired from a stationary position. Hawthorne Army Depot is a 147,000-acre (60,000-hectare) site used for the stor-age and destruction of demilitarized ammunition. Its location in Nevada’s isolated high desert is also considered an ideal training environment for Special Operations forces preparing for deployments to Southwest Asia. The facility was established as a naval staging area for bombs, rockets and ammuni-tion, and was used by the Navy during most of the Second World War. It was transferred to the Army in 1977.
On March 20, the Marines announced that they have charged the Naval Criminal Investigative Ser-vice [NCIS – it really does exist, Ed.] to conduct the investigation into the fatal training accident. The Marines issued a Deadline Safety of Use message suspending all use of the M224A1 60mm mortar system for all Marine Commands in training and downrange. Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Richard Ulsh said the decision was made just before 22:30 on March 19 to issue a blanket suspension of the system. Ulsh said that the suspension comes with an exception: General officers in combat theatre can still authorize use of the mortars if they choose.
19 March 2013 - USA
CA, Stockton. Stockton City Motel. The Stockton Police Department deployed a Bomb Dis-posal Squad [BDS] to the Stockton City Motel after a man was injured when a homemade golf ball launcher exploded in his hand. Officers responded to a report of an explosion about 21:30. When they arrived, they found a man with injuries to his hand, arm, leg, stomach and face. The man was taken to a hospital with moderate injuries. Officers found sev-eral explosive devices near a mobile home where the explosion occurred. The bomb disposal squad was called out to render the devices safe.
22 March 2013 - India
Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, Vikarabad. Two persons died in Vikarabad and four were seriously injured when a stock of explosives exploded. The incident occurred in a house in Rajiv Gruha Kalpa, owned by a tailor, Majeed. The intensity of the explosion was such that it killed Vasantha, 40, and Sai Charan, 4, who were in the adjacent block.
Y. Nagi Reddy, Deputy Inspector-General (DIG), Hyderabad police, said, “We are not sure yet how the blast occurred and we will only get to know to-morrow.” He ruled out the possibility of this being an act of terrorism or an LPG explosion. Unconfirmed reports indicated the existence of ammonium nitrate and gel sticks in the houses.
Ranga Reddy SP Rajakumari, sub-collector K. Amrapali, and Prasad Rao, Minister for Handlooms, visited at the site.
24 March 2013 - India
Maharashtra state, 40 km from Nagpur, Kondhali. Economic Explosives. One worker was killed and three other labourers were injured in an explosion at the Economic Explosives factory in Kondhali. There were 24 labourers working on det-onators inside the plant when the explosion oc-curred. The three injured workers were admitted to a hospital in Nagpur. Police were trying to ascertain the cause of blast.
26 March 2013 - Belgium
Province of Liège, Engis, Clermont-sous-Huy. Groupe SNPE: PB Clermont SA. An explosion occurred around 04:30 at the TB Clermont powder mill, in the area where propellants are made for infantry rifle cartridges. Three employees of the powder factory were hospitalised: two suffered se-rious burns, and the third suffered from breathing fumes.
An official inquiry was open, and the work inspec-tor from Huy said that according to preliminary in-vestigation, the accident occurred in a screening unit powder intended for infantry ammunition. Of the two workers who were badly burned in the se-cond and third degrees, one was taken to University Hospital of Liège and the other to the burn centre of the IMTR Loverval.
The workplace auditor asked for the intervention of an inspector controller FPS Economy Engis in the factory. This will determine the causes of the accident and verify or exclude any criminal liability of the employer. According to the inspector: “There could have been a problem mounting a screen, caus-ing a spark when the screen rubbed another piece of metal, and an explosion ensued.” However, this is a first hypothesis and has to be verified.
On April 3, it was announced that one of the workers had died. The other worker remained in an artificially induced coma. His state was reported as “stable, but critical”.
28 March 2013 - USA
IN, Martin County, Bloomington. Crane Naval Warfare Center. There was an explosion at the Crane Naval Warfare Center, south of Bloomington. The explosion happened around 17:40, in the pyrotechnics area on the base. Crane is a Naval base and Army weapons depot in Martin County. Military personnel and weapons experts work at the base. Five people were injured; all were treated and released from IU Health Bloomington Hospital.
There was significant damage to the building, in-cluding the roof and possible wall collapsing. Inside the building workers were handling white phosphorus. Fire-fighters were on the scene until 19:30, when the fire was extinguished.
On March 29, Crane Army Ammunition Activity spokesman Tom Peske said the explosion happened during routine cleanup operations at a pyrotechnic facility at the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center about 85 miles southwest of Indianapolis. The five injured employees were examined and released from the hospital on the day of the incident. Peske said the explosion occurred at the facility that produces illumination mortars. He said employees follow certain procedures to clean up any loose chemical dust at the beginning or end of a production run.
Peske said their employees are trained and safety is their No. 1 concern. He said their safety precau-tions worked because the employees were able to get the explosion under control immediately, adding: “From here, we just want to find out what caused the explosion, so that we can certainly avoid it in the future.”