[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 10 (Friday, January 15, 2010)]
[Pages 2481-2482]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-840]



Sunshine Act; Notice of Meeting

    In connection with its investigation into a natural gas explosion 
that occurred at the ConAgra production facility in Garner, North 
Carolina the

[[Page 2482]]

United States Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) 
announces that it will hold a public meeting on February 4, 2010, in 
Garner, North Carolina to consider urgent recommendations to the 
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the American Gas 
Association (AGA) and the Chair of the NFPA 54/ANSI Z223.1 Committee 
that result from its investigation of this incident.
    The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the Oak Forrest Ballroom at the 
Sheraton Raleigh Hotel, 421 Salisbury St., Raleigh, North Carolina. The 
meeting is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not 
required, but to assure adequate seating, attendees are encouraged to 
pre-register by emailing their names and affiliations to 
[email protected]. by January 29, 2010.
    On June 9, 2009, the ConAgra Slim Jim production facility in 
Garner, North Carolina, experienced a catastrophic natural gas 
explosion that caused four deaths, three critical life-threatening burn 
injuries, an amputation, and other injuries that sent a total of 71 
people to the hospital. The explosion caused serious structural damage 
to 100,000 square feet of the packaging area of the plant, including 
wall and roof collapse, which had the potential to cause additional 
deaths and serious injuries.
    The accident occurred during the installation and commissioning of 
a new gas-fired industrial water heater, manufactured by Energy Systems 
Analysts, Inc. (ESA). On the day of the accident, an ESA worker was 
attempting to purge the new gas piping of air by opening the supply of 
gas, prior to the start-up of the water heater. The purged gas was 
piped directly into the room rather than being vented to the outside. 
Some ConAgra employees smelled gas in the packaging area, others did 
not. Personnel who were in and out of the utility room noticed the gas 
odor but most were not seriously concerned and considered the purging 
activity to be a normal part of the start-up process. The ESA and 
ConAgra employees were not aware that as a result of the purging, a 
dangerous release of natural gas had occurred into the building, 
exceeding the lower explosive limit (LEL).
    The vicinity of the utility room contained numerous potential 
ignition sources, including multiple unclassified electrical devices. 
Nonessential personnel were neither aware of the water heater start-up 
nor instructed to leave the plant during the gas line purging activity. 
Over 200 people who had no role in the installation were in the 
building at the time of the explosion.
    At the meeting, the CSB investigative team will present its 
preliminary findings supporting the need for urgent recommendations 
arising from this incident to the CSB Board and the public. The Board 
will then ask questions of the team. At the end of the panel 
discussion, the Board will consider the urgent recommendations proposed 
by the staff. At the end of the Board's deliberations, the Board may 
decide to proceed to vote to formally approve the draft urgent 
    The meeting will be videotaped and an official transcript will be 
included in the investigative file. All staff presentations are 
preliminary and are intended solely to allow the Board to consider the 
issues and factors involved in this case in a public forum. No factual 
analyses, conclusions, findings or recommendations of the staff should 
be considered final. Only after the Board has considered and approved 
the urgent recommendations will there be an approved final record.

Christopher W. Warner,
General Counsel.
[FR Doc. 2010-840 Filed 1-13-10; 4:15 pm]