September 26, 2018 | Anne Roberts

Remembering An Accident: DeBruce Grain

On June 8, 1998 a grain elevator explosion occurred at DeBruce Grain located in Haysville, Kansas. The explosion killed 7 people, injured 10, and destroyed a large portion of the DeBruce Grain facility. How does a major explosion like this occur?

The initial explosion, that set off a series of additional explosions, occurred when grain dust ignited in the Eastern tunnel under the South array of silos. The ignition source was a concentrator roller bearing that hadn’t be properly lubricated. The non-lubricated bearing seized causing the the roller to lock into place, while the conveyor belt continued to move over the locked roller. All the friction caused by the moving belt heated the roller to a scorching temperature of 260 degrees Celsius. This is well beyond the 220 degrees Celsius need to ignite layered grain dust.

This initial ignition set of a series of explosion through out the facility begin in the the Eastern tunnel of the south array silos. The explosion utilized a crossover tunnel allowing it to spread in both directions of the two tunnels in the south array. Once it reached the head-house the blast and fire blew upwards through the head-house and into the southern and northern galleries. As the blast waves passed beneath the northern silos the blast rose through the silos and popped most of the silos tops off due to the intensity of the blast. The southern gallery wasn’t nearly as damaged as the northern gallery because a dust clean up had recently been completed. Most of the silos in the north array were destroyed by the explosion along with the 21-story head-house.

To learn more about the DeBruce Grain Explosion click here.

Major disasters like this are often wake-up calls for how important it is to ensure that they never happen again.

TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis is taught globally to help industries avoid them. Our 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Training offers advanced tools and techniques to find and fix root causes re-actively and help identify precursors that could lead to major problems.

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Accident, Investigations, Root Cause Analysis
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2 Replies to “Remembering An Accident: DeBruce Grain”

  • Robin Turnmire says:

    Anne Roberts – I’m curious as to how you came to the conclusion of what the cause of the DeBruce accident was. Did you complete a root cause analysis on the accident or are you using a report that you found? If so I would be interested in discussing.

    • Robin Turnmire says:

      I did a complete causal analysis that not only included what happened it includes why with actual and proposed corrective actions.

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