An explosion in a coal-fired power plant in India killed at least 26 people and injured 100 more yesterday. The incident came on the heels of a fireworks factory explosion that killed nearly 50 people in Indonesia last week.
The blast occurred in a newly installed boiler, after pressure reportedly built up in a pipe carrying hot ash.
NFPA standards are used throughout the world to address the fire hazards of boilers in coal-fired plants. NFPA 850, Recommended Practice for Fire Protection for Electric Generating Plants and High Voltage Direct Current Converter Stations, outlines fire safety recommendations for electricity-generating plants using gas, oil, coal, or alternative fuel, while NFPA 85, Boiler and Combustion Systems Hazards Code, contributes to operating safety and prevents explosions and implosions in boilers, pulverized fuel systems, and heat recovery steam generators.
NFPA 85, which is referenced in NFPA 1, Fire Code, includes steps to lessen the risk of boiler fires and explosions by addressing issues such as pressurization and ash handling, both cited as possible causes for the India blast. "Depending on the type of boiler, the design pressure, pressure relief, and ash handling are all addressed by portions of NFPA 85," said Rich Bielen, division manager of Engineering Fire Protection Systems at NFPA.
Industrial disasters aren't uncommon in the world's second most populous country. The Bhopal methyl isocyanate gas leak, which killed thousands in 1984, is widely regarded as the world's worst industrial disaster ever. According to BBC News, problems in the country persist because of poor safety standards and lax regulations.
India's neighbor to the east, Bangladesh, has also suffered numerous industrial disasters. In fact, an explosion occurred in a boiler in a factory there in 2016, killing nearly two dozen people. Since 2014, NFPA has partnered with the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety to reduce the number of these kinds of incidents in the South Asian country.