NTSB Reveal Cause Of Accident After Natural Gas Pipeline Caused PA. Factory Explosion
The National Transportation Safety Board is now investigating the West Reading, Berks County candy factory explosion, according to UGI. The R.M. Palmer’s factory. “Early findings by the NTSB investigator who was on the site indicate an accident involving a natural gas pipeline… caused the Palmer business explosion,” an NTSB spokesman said. According to the spokeswoman, another investigator will do a safety inspection on Thursday after this first discovery.
Pennsylvania State Police are still investigating the candy factory incident. UGI is also investigating the seven-person blast. Contractors removed rubble Tuesday while hard-hatted investigators searched for evidence. Some workers informed family they smelled natural gas before the explosion, even though UGI denied it. West Reading Borough Council extended the emergency status until April 18 on Tuesday night. The municipality is eligible for state and federal funds during the investigation and cleanup.
“I can’t believe a building where you worked is gone,” Robin Dornes remarked. Former coworker Dornes struggled to accept the destruction. She said building workers made small chocolate eggs, money, and other items. Dornes explained chocolate melting. “They have a contraption where the chocolate comes in from a truck, sits in a mold, and the gas heats the chocolate. There are drums, and the bottoms store heat,” she said. The explosion highlights food plant flammability, particularly chocolate manufacture.
Commercial ovens and furnaces, ammonia-based commercial refrigerant, and combustible dust from cocoa powder and corn starch are the main explosive hazards at food plants, according to Holly Burgess, technical lead for industrial and chemical safety at the National Fire Protection Association, a nonprofit organization that produces hundreds of codes and standards. “Most persons, if they haven’t worked in food sector, don’t realize what their hazards are and what they’re looking at,” Burgess said. Chocolate and other food manufacturers must prevent dust-related fires and explosions. Smaller particles that stay aloft are riskier than larger ones that fall quickly.