Saturday, February 11, 2017

Three welding workers killed, sever other workers injured after a tank exploded during welding at Packaging corporation of America, DeRidder Mill, 4200 Hwy 190 west in DeRidder, LA 70634

A three-person investigative team has deployed from Washington, D.C. to the scene of the fatal incident that occurred at PCA on Wednesday.   Most likely, they failed to evacuate the tanks from explosive gaseous contents.  Perhaps they did not even had a permit to do the maintenance work.  These type of shortcuts in performing a very dangerous work causes the explosions.

Officials from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board are looking into the explosion, which took place while contractors performed welding on a tank during a facility shut down.

The three workers who died in the explosion as Jody Gooch, 40, of Newton County, William Rolls, 32, of Reeves, Louisiana, and Sedrick Stallworth, 42, of Houston, according to the Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office.

Seven other people sustained minor to moderate injuries, said Sgt. James Anderson, state police Troop D spokesman.

The CSB and 'hot work'

The CSB is an independent federal agency that investigates chemical safety to protect people and the environment. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical incidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The kind of work which caused the explosions at the PCA plant is innately dangerous. Welding is one of several types of "hot work."

"Hot work incidents are one of the most common causes of worker deaths we see at the CSB, but also one of the most readily preventable," said CSB Chairwoman Vanessa Sutherland.

"Hot work" consists of burning, welding, or similar spark-producing operations, all of which can ignite fires or explosions. Most hot work accidents result in the ignition of combustible materials or the ignition of structures or debris near the hot work.

Welding activity was taking place in the vicinity of the tank that exploded, said Anderson. He called the blast a "strong explosion." The tank contained "foul condensate, which is a by-product of the cooking process," he said.

The explosion was powerful enough to cause the tank to fly and land in a different area of the plant.

Innately dangerous

CSB officials said the kind of work which caused the explosions at the PCA plant is innately dangerous. Welding is one of several types of "hot work," or any type of operation that creates sparks.

Accidents stemming from hot work occur in many industries in the U.S., including food processing, pulp and paper manufacturing, oil production, fuel storage, and waste treatment. Most incidents result in the ignition of combustible materials, such as a roofing fire, or the ignition of structures or debris near the hot work.

The agency has investigated many hot work accidents across the country, including a 2008 explosion that killed three workers at a PCA plant in Tomahawk, Wisconsin.

Following that particular incident, steps were taken to avoid similar incidents in the future. The CSB issued discussed the hazards of welding and other hot work in a 2010 safety bulletin with the title "Seven Key Lessons to Prevent Worker Deaths during Hot Work In and Around Tanks."

Vanessa Sutherland, the chairwoman of the board, said the agency also released a safety video, "Dangers of Hot Work," which presents the findings from that bulletin. The video can be viewed at )

"The CSB continues to be concerned about the frequency of dangerous hot work incidents and has added safe hot work practices to the agency's Drivers of Critical Chemical Safety Change Program, a list of key chemical safety advocacy initiatives," she said.

In 2013, United Steelworkers members from PCA mills in Georgia, Tennesee, Michigan, and Wisconsin, voted to ratify a new contract with the company. The agreement spanned many areas such as health care and wage increases, but, notably, it stated the company would take several steps forward on plant health and safety issues.

The Beauregard Sheriff's Department, the DeRidder Police Department, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration are also investigating the circumstances of the explosion.



Three men are dead following an explosion at Packaging Corporation of America, officials have confirmed.

Six of seven people injured in the accident have been released from the hospital. One person was unaccounted for, but has been found.

All three men who died were contractors who were working in the pulp mill area, according to a statement released by PCA.

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.

Welding activity was taking place in the vicinity of the tank that exploded, said Sgt. James Anderson, state police Troop D spokesman. The tank contained "foul condensate, which is a by-product of the cooking process." Authorities are still investigating to see what other chemicals were in the tank.

Anderson called the blast a "strong explosion."

Seven people were injured in the explosion - one with moderate injuries and six with minor injuries.

Three were transported to Beauregard Memorial Hospital, two to Lake Charles Memorial and two to Rapides Regional Medical Center. One person remains hospitalized at Rapides.

The Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office received the call at 11:10 a.m., according to Chief Deputy Joe Toler. Toler said every available emergency responder in the area is on the scene.

The area has been contained and there is no fire, Toler said.

The PCA plant is located at 4200 U.S. 190. PCA acquired Boise in 2013.
Several departments responded to the scene. Louisiana State Police and OSHA are investigating.


DeRidder Containerboard Mill

 4200 Highway 190 West, DeRidder, LA 70634 |  (337) 462-4300

About This Location

Our DeRidder mill has two containerboard machines which produced 874,000 tons in 2015. The No. 1 machine produces linerboard grades 26# through 69#, including many high-performance and specialty grades. The No. 3 machine can produce both corrugating medium and light-weight linerboard.
PCA annually produces over 3.7 million tons of kraft linerboard (the outer layers of a corrugated container) and semi-chemical corrugating medium (the fluted center layer) for PCA’s own converting facilities, as well as for numerous domestic and international customers. All of PCA’s mills are Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®)-certified.

For more information on the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, please click here.

Capabilities for This Location

  • State-of-the-art containerboard facility
  • Annual production of 874,000 tons
  • Linerboard grades from 26# to 69#
  • Corrugating medium grades from 23# to 33#
  • Specialty grades
  • Serving domestic and export markets