NFPA Journal looks back at the Flixbourough explosion

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Jan 29, 2015

Looking backThe best that can be said about the 1974 explosion at the Nypro plant in Flixborough, England, is that the casualty count could have been much higher had it not occurred on a Saturday.

The plant manufactured caprolactam, a chemical used to fabricate nylon, using cyclohexane, a colorless, flammable liquid that occurs naturally in crude oil, volcanic gases, and cigarette smoke. On May 29, plant employees discovered a cyclohexane leak, and the plant was shut down for repairs. Production started and stopped twice more before the plant finally went online again at 7 a.m. on June 1. Everything seemed to go smoothly until 4:35 p.m., when the repaired piping ruptured, producing a massive vapor cloud explosion that nearly leveled the entire installation, killing all 18 employees inside the plant’s control room and another 10 elsewhere in the plant.

Read “Looking Back” in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal for more on the Flixborough disaster.

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