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7th BALKANMINE CONGRESS – Proceedings, Prijedor 2017

DOI: 10.7251/BMC170702227K

RISKS IN ELIMINATION OF EXPLOSIVE GELS WASTE FROM THE


MANUFACTURING LINE - CASE STUDY –

Attila KOVACS1, Edward JANGHEORGHIOSU1, Emilian GHICIOI1, Gabriel DRAGOȘ


VASILESCU1, Daniela CARMEN RUS1, Ilie CIPRIAN JITEA1
1
National Institute for Research and Development in Mine Safety and Protection to Explosion – INSEMEX
Petroşani, Romania, attila.kovacs@isemex.ro, edward.gheorghiosu@insemex.ro, emilian.ghicioi@insemex.ro,
dra os.vasilescu@insemex.ro, daniela.rus@insemex.ro, ciprian.jitea@insemex.ro

ABSTRACT

At the production of explosives, inevitably results a quantity of explosive hazardous waste which
cannot be reintroduced into the processing circuit and that must be eliminated. Explosive gels
respectively waste products considered jetsam of these are eliminated commonly by different methods
such as: blast by applied explosive charges, reprocessing and chemical neutralization or by burning.
Explosive residue burning is a very simple and cheap mode of elimination but wearing a serious risk
to be carried out. The study case presented relates to an accident technically investigation made by
INSEMEX Petrosani, accident resulting in death of two persons, due to disposal consisting in
transition from burning to detonation of waste and jetsam of explosive gel resulted from production
line.

Key words: explosive waste, burning, unexpected detonation.

1. INTRODUCTION

The gel type explosives cartridges, cap sensitive are used in the mining industry, civil
engineering works, blasting works for surface / underground, in non-explosive / non-
flammable environments, dry/ wet environments, with / water infiltrations.
The gel type explosive involved in accident is an explosive "explosive gel" (Hydrogel),
embedded in a polyethylene film and closed at the ends with metal clamps. The composition
of the explosive and the physicochemical parameters are specified in the document
specification of manufacturer.
The gel explosive is a mixture of substances that form a thermodynamically labile system
having a large amount of energy and which, under the influence of an external action, have
the property of suddenly and violently decomposing with heat release and formation of
heavily heated gases, able of forming a mechanical work.

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Based on the criteria documented in the literature, the explosive gel is classified as follows:
 After physical condition: explosive gel (solid paste).
 After chemical composition: explosive mixture of chemical compounds.

The gel type explosive is a mixture consisting mainly of the following components: Oxidants
(Nitrogen), Fuel (aluminium powder, monomethyl amine nitrate), Sensitizers, Stabilizers,
Phlegmatized additions that reduce sensitivity to mechanical action; Explosive substances
which reduce the heat of explosion, inert materials and additives which are intended to give
the explosive a particular property or to facilitate its manufacture (egg water associated with a
gelling substance which provides good resistance to humidity of explosives in the form of
gels).
 Following the velocity of the explosive transformation process: detonating explosive
(at velocities greater than 4000 m / s).
 After practical use and areas of use: secondary explosive.

The gel type explosive it used in the mining industry, civil engineering works, blasting works
for surface / underground, in non-explosive / non-flammable environments, dry / wet
environments, with / water infiltrations, [1].

2. METHODS OF DESTRUCTION APPLIED BY MANUFACTURER

SC SPAROMEX S.R.L. Victoria has documented the activities of treating waste explosives
and combustion of explosive waste in the firing range, developing several documents as:
-PO-RO-1011 "Explosive waste treatment" procedure, approved on 26.10.2006;
Working Instructions, Edition 8/25.10.2006, entitled "Burning of explosive waste in the firing
range", for: workstation: Destruction of residues; Basic function: Preparation and burning of
explosive waste resulting from various manufacturing and / or service processes, [1], [2].
PO-RO-1011 "Explosive waste treatment" specifies the working method for the treatment of
explosive and non-explosive residues handled in the manufacture of Hydrogels. With regard
to the treatment of explosive residues, the following are foreseen:

Precautions:

- The weight of the bags should not exceed 25 kg.


Task 3: Transport the containers filled with the forklift to the crematorium to be destroyed
later. If the forklift operator in the area does not have time to transport the waste to the
crematorium, this will be done by the operator, who will be designated for this purpose and
who has a forklift license. Explosive waste should be transported as soon as possible and
taken to the crematorium to be destroyed. In Working Instructions, Issue 8/25.10.2006, titled
"Burning of Explosive Residues in the Fume Burning", the preparation and burning of
explosive residues resulting from various manufacturing and / or service processes are
documented.

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3. TESTING OF GEL TYPEEXPLOSIVE AFTER ACCIDENT

Samples subjected to tests


For tests performed at INSEMEX Petrosani headquarters, there have been received the
following samples:
 Explosive gel, conforming1 to ø x L: 65 x 500, 50 kg, of lot 868 Y 028.
 Explosive gel, waste 52 kg.
A reception report (Annex 1.22) was prepared for the samples collected.

Tests performed

Both samples of gel and explosive samples, as well as waste, were subjected to laboratory and
polygon tests.
Laboratory tests were performed at INSEMEX Petrosani, Laboratory for Blasting Techniques,
accredited by RENAR:
 Determination of the appearance and mass of explosive cartridges.
 Density Determination.
 Determination of water content.
 Determination of chemical stability (Abel) at 750.
 Determination of friction sensitivity.
 Determination of impact sensitivity.
 Determination of the detonation velocity.
 Determination of the sensitivity to the detonation transmission.
 Determination of the relative working capacity of explosives by ballistic pendulum
method.

In the INSEMEX Petroşani testing facility, the explosive gel - waste, 60 to 70 mm in


diameter, underwent tests to study the behaviour of burning destruction. Four tests were
performed with different amounts of explosive (2.5, 5, 10, 25 kg).
In all four tests, the explosive-waste was placed on a bed of wood fuel, the flame being fired
open at a distance of 5 m.
At each test, the burning mode was checked one hour after starting the fuel bed.

1
The gel explosive manufactured by S.C. SPAROMEX S.R.L. Victoria conforms to the EC type-examination
model which led to the Certification under Directive 93/15 / EEC by the Notified Body No. 1453 (Central
Mining Institute - Poland), attested by the documents "Certificate of Quality / Conformity, No. 92/2008,
concerning the gel product "(Annex 1.20) and" EC Declaration of Conformity concerning the gel product
"Annex 1.21).

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4. COMPARISON OF TEST RESULTS WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE


GEL TYPE SPECIFICATION

In order to check the detonation capacity of the explosive-waste from the manufacturing line
involved in the event, a comparison was made between: the characteristics of the gel
explosive, determined; The characteristics of gel explosives - according, determined; The
quality requirements of the gel product, as specified in the technical specification.

Interpretation of results
 Density, water content and impact sensitivity differences between the explosive and
explosive waste were found;
 From the point of view of Abel's chemical stability at 750C, both types of samples
(also produced as waste) were stable at 750C for 30 minutes;
 For ballistic tests: detonation velocity, detonation transmission, relative work capacity
no differences were found with respect to the parameter that was determined for the
two types of explosives (also waste). The gel type - Waste Explosive has completely
transmitted detonation at distances between cartridges larger than the distance
specified in the technical specification.
 Given that the explosive - waste was involved in the event, attempts to verify burning
behaviour on a wood bed were performed only for it. Four tests were performed, using
increasing amounts of explosive waste. It has been found that no quantity of explosive
subjected to combustion has been found to have passed from burning to detonation,
subject to compliance with the normative provisions in force, namely: limit to max. 25
kg explosive subject to destruction by burning; single layer layout of explosive
cartridges; pre-packaging the packaging.

5. CASE STUDY ON THE OCCURRENCE OF AN UNWANTED EVENT


FOLLOWING THE DESTRUCTION OF EXPLOSIVE GELS ON THE SITE

Event produced at the factory, on 26.05.2008, was determined by:


 Detonation of 500 kg of gel explosive waste disposed on two sites, namely:
 A quantity of gel explosive waste on the hearth inside the crematorium (concentrated
soil type applied to the soil);
 A quantity of explosive waste gel, outside the crematorium, on the concrete platform
of the northern crematory beach platform (concentrated ground load applied to the
soil).

With regard to the location of the amount of explosive-waste outside the crematorium, the
hypothesis of its position on the trailer floor (suspended load) was also accepted. However,
this hypothesis was rejected on the following grounds:
 Most of the fragments resulting from the dismantling of the tractor and trailer were
designed in the following directions: north, northwest, northeast and east, which
supports the location of the explosive between the crematorium and the trailer;

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 The crater formed in the area of the concrete platform in the northern part of the
crematorium would not have the dimensions found. Detonating the suspended load at
a height of 1.2 m would result in the formation of a smaller crater due to the main
dissipation of the energy released by the explosion horizontally above the ground.

The detonation of the total quantity of 500 kg of explosive waste gel took place successively,
producing two successive detonations, namely:
 The initial detonation of the amount of gel explosive waste placed on the hearth inside
the crematory, followed by
 Dismantling the amount of gel explosives debris located on the concrete platform of
the beach in the northern part of the crematorium.

The production of two successive detonations, the support of which was the 500kg gel
explosive waste, disposed on two different sites, is evidenced by the formation of two distinct
craters at a distance of about 1 m, [3].
The detonation of the 500kg explosive gel, distributed on two different sites, resulted in the
formation of two craters, of equal size.

Analysis of hypotheses
a. Analysis of hypothesis 1: This hypothesis was based on the following premises:
 For the burning destruction of the blast-waste batch, a single fuel bed was built on the
hearth of the crematorium by stacking wooden pallets. The fuel carrier was
supplemented with tree branches placed under pallets, supported by the finding, in the
vicinity of the crater formed on the crematorium site, of branches with fresh
combustion traces.
 The destruction by burning in a single batch of a large amount of explosive waste,
namely 184 kg (estimated quantity by calculation), involved the placement of the
cartridges without spaces between them and stacked in the form of a pile. Depending
on the surface used to place the cartridges (the surface of a standard pallet being
1.44 m2), and the stacking mode of the cartridges, the number of layers could be 3 ÷ 6.
In this way, a load was concentrated on the pallet bed.
 Explosive-waste cartridges have not been cut on generators.
 The heating of explosive cartridges at the top could also be favoured by placing above
them unused stacks of unused polyethylene foil for the purpose of amplifying the fire
to accelerate burning of the explosive. On site, such piles were found in the Northwest
side of the craters.
 Polyethylene characteristics that give the packaging a tear and heat resistance, namely:
tensile strength: 215- 400 kgf/cm2; Elongation at break: 15-100%.
 b. Analysis of hypothesis 2: The circumstances that could favour the initiation of the
detonation carried out within the crematorium by the shock wave generated by the
explosion of an explosive-waste cartridge are considered as follows:
 Large quantity of explosive - waste (184 kg) subject to burning destruction in a single
batch;

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 Arrangement of explosives-waste cartridges in the form of a pile on the pallets bed


made on the hearth of the crematorium, thus obtaining a concentrated explosive
charge;
 Separation of explosive cartridges that have been closed at the ends;
 Non-cutting of a long-lasting cartridge (2 m and possibly even more (Photo 49, 50 →
Appendix 2)), which was not closed at the ends, it was considered that there is no need
to cut the packaging generators;
 Place the long, non-segmented cartridges on the fuel bed, in a packed form (spiral:
Photo 50), between the other cartridges;
 Objecting the free ends of the cartridge, un-mounted, by the adjacent cartridges, as
well as the long cartridge length, could provide conditions for priming and
propagating self-sustaining decomposition inside the explosive mass.
The initiation of the detonation produced inside the crematorium by the action of the pressure
wave generated by the detonation of an explosive-waste cartridge is supported by the
following arguments:
 Hydrodynamic theory that allows the detonation to be transmitted from one explosive
charge to another by means of shock waves;
 High sensitivity of secondary explosives to shock waves;
 The detonating capacity of the explosive-waste, ascertained during the tests carried out
at INSEMEX Petrosani;
 Identification, in the explosives warehouse of S.C. SPAROMEX S.R.L. Victoria
Făgăras of explosive cartridges - large waste (over 2 m);
 Explosive explosion-intensive decomposition of explosives in closed space is known
and treated in the literature2.
c. Analysis of hypothesis 3: Discharging a quantity of diesel fuel over the combustion
fuel material in order to develop the fire would have caused its instantaneous vaporization and
ignition of the formed vapours. The mode of ignition would have been a "blast". Burning
processes are at the lower limit of deflagrations and are characterized by the formation of a
combustion wave at speeds of the order of 10 m / s. These types of combustion processes do
not generate dynamic effects. In the case of combustion waves, combustion is maintained due
to diffusion phenomena, whereas in the event of an explosion a shock wave is formed which
is maintained by the energy (heat generated) of the chemical reaction. As a result, it is
unlikely that such a process would have generated a pressure wave capable of initiating the
detonation of the explosive placed on the fuel bed for combustion.

2
Sources:
a. C. D. Neniţescu, General Chemistry, Technical Publishing House, Bucharest, 1963.
b. Louis Médard, Les explosifs occasionnels, Technique et Documentation, Vol. 2 - Monographies, Paris, 1979.

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6. CONCLUSIONS

6.1. The explosion event of 500 kg in volvedgel removed from the explosives storage site
for burning destruction occurred as a result of a succession of phenomena in the
following order:
 bringing the entire quantity of 500 kg explosive into the firing area, in the
crematorium or in the immediate vicinity of it (the tractor platform of the trailer with
trailer).
 Burning the explosive in a closed space (crematorium).
 Burning more than the quantity specified in the operating instructions (25 kg).
 The detonation energy of the explosive in the crematorium is very high, the mass of
explosives left in the trailer detonated by sympathy, the phenomenon perceived by the
witnesses as a single instantaneous explosion.

6.2. Arguments supporting the mechanism of producing the event mentioned above:
 the very intense dynamic effects of the explosion and the fact that no debris was found
to support the detonation of the entire 500 kg explosive waste gel;
 the very similar size and volume of the two craters resulting from the explosion
indicates that in the crematorium at the start of the explosion there was much more
explosive than what had to be destroyed in a batch (25 kg);
 the large amount of explosive and the short time available to workers between the
release of the explosive from the storage site and the time of the explosion, are
arguments that for the quantities of product not compliant with  60 ÷ 70, no cutting
of the coating was done before laying on the bed of material woody.
 Following the tests carried out at INCD-INSEMEX - LTI Laboratory, it was found
that gelas waste (non-compliant) had very similar or identical characteristics to the
product. Ballistic tests performed argue the proper detonation properties even for
waste.

REFERENCES

[1] Law 126 (1995) on the Regime of explosive materials, with the subsequent modifications and completions,
regarding the preparation, production, experimentation, possession, transit through the territory of the
country, transmission in any form, transportation, storage, handling and use of explosives civil use, as well
as keeping a strict record of their entries, exits and consumption.
[2] Law 319 (2006) on Occupational Safety and Health, Risk Assessment has become a family concept for the
organization of workplace prevention, and consequently a growing number of Economic operators from the
community space have resolved the issues of the field of labour protection by implementing the risk
assessment on a regular based.
[3] GD 971 (2006) Decision on the minimum requirements for the signalling of safety and / or health at work.

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