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Accident Report Detail

Burlington Northern Inc., Monomethylamine Nitrite Explosion

Executive Summary

At 12:32 p.m. on August 6, 1974, a shipment of monomethylamine nitrate solution (PRM) detonated during routine switching operations in the Burlington Northern Inc. Apple Yard in Wenatchee, Washington. The explosion killed 2 persons, injured 113, and destroyed equipment and buildings. Estimated losses exceeded $7,500,000.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board was unable to determine the probable cause of the accident. A partial list of the possibilities that could not be ruled out completely includes a reaction of dried crystals, a reaction of spilled or leaking crystals in the insulation space, a reaction in one of the tank components, cavitation and recompression of the solution, compression of an air bubble' entrained in the solution, a reaction of solution or crystals sensitized by contamination, or the ignition of escaped product by friction. The Safety Board concludes that the classification of monomethylamine nitrate as a flammable solid permitted shipment of the chemical without proper safeguards against predictable hazardous conditions.

Accident Location: Wenatchee , WA    
Accident Date: 8/6/1974
Accident ID: 80170

Date Adopted: 2/2/1976
NTSB Number: RAR-76-01
NTIS Number: PB-250032/AS

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