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Boiler and pressure vessel accidents The following pictures show damage caused by accidents to boilers and pressure vessels.


Buffalo, New York 1983 “It looked like a battleground� Two days after Christmas 1983, the peace and tranquility of Buffalo, New York was abruptly shattered by an explosion of such magnitude that its enormity was almost impossible to comprehend. The aftermath of the explosion left the appearance of a major battleground, rather than that of an average city residential block. What caused this horrifying scene? A gas explosion caused by the release of liquid LP gas on the second floor of a warehouse


The cause was a pressure vessel measuring only three feet by eight feet, containing 230 gallons of liquid propane. The vessel was being moved via forklift when it rolled off the forks, and a nozzle broke off causing the gas to escape. LP gas being heavier than air stayed near the ground. A spark caused the gas to explode and caused the following results:


Liquid Oxygen Cylinder Explosion • Improper methods used to render scrap cylinder unserviceable • Unsafe modifications to cylinder design • Two individuals (ages 42 and 60) found a liquid oxygen cylinder that had been removed from service and left at a scrap metal dealer • The individuals were self-employed in scrap metal cutting operations and intended to use the cylinder in their work • The Pressure Relieving Devices were removed and plugged • The cylinder was filled while onboard a pickup truck • The cylinder, which had no vacuum, was now unable to vent excess pressure • While being transported down a busy highway, the pickup truck experienced a flat tire • Shortly thereafter, the cylinder exploded with the results shown in the following slides


Pickup truck on which the cylinder was being transported


Both inner and outer shells separated at bottom welds

Annular Space


Cylinder exploded at 12:40 PM while transport vehicle was parked on busy Interstate highway Vehicle Location

Cylinder Trajectory


The blast blew one individual across 5 lanes of traffic. The other was blown approximately 40 feet. Both survived


Note that the media reported the event as a Butane cylinder explosion but it was really an O2 cylinder


LP Gas storage sphere collapsed while being filled for a hydrostatic pressure test killing a worker underneath. Support legs had corroded due to water trapped between insulation and support column.


This is an example of brittle fracture caused by using cold water for a hydrostatic pressure test and then pressurizing vessel. The temperature of the water caused the metal to become brittle.


Antique traction engine


Traction Engine after boiler explosion


First floor classroom after cast iron boiler explosion


Front of school building viewing from exterior of building.


View from basement boiler room looking up through ceiling to 1st floor


The Incident • A defective, high pressure, steam boiler ruptured. • High vibrations were heard just before the boiler ruptured. • The resultant explosion on rupture damaged nearby vessels containing flammables. • The flammable Loss Of Containment resulted in further fires and explosions. Results •23 workers were killed. •Nine are still missing.(at time of report) •74 were injured. •$800,000,000 (U.S.) estimated property damage.


Following views are after explosion.


Flames light the sky after an explosion at Algeria's largest refinery and principal oil exporter in the port city of Skikda, 500 km (310 miles) east of the capital Algiers, early January 20, 2004. Rescue workers searched through rubble for missing worker on Tuesday after a huge explosion at its key gas installations killed 23 people on Monday evening, official media said.


Boiler explosion in private residence. This slide shows family room and daughter’s bedroom after explosion.


Daughter’s bedroom and bed after explosion


Boiler Safety Accidents