Chemical Safety Board Probes Fatal Fire at Tennessee Metal Treatment Plant

June 4, 2024
One worker died from severe burns in a chemical explosion at TS USA's liquid nitriding facility in Chattanooga. The incident, which injured three others, is under investigation by federal safety officials.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) said June 4 that it is investigating a fatal fire at the TS USA liquid nitriding facility in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, on May 30. One person died after suffering severe burns during the incident at the facility, which uses the nitriding process to harden the outer layer of metal parts. 

Four CSB investigators arrived on site and have begun investigative activities, including documentation of the incident site and interviews with facility employees, CSB said.

According to a news release on the city of Chattanooga website, initial reports indicated that one of the workers was burned and his fellow employees were trying to help him. The fire was extinguished by workers with fire extinguishers. Firefighters arrived on the scene and immediately began patient care. Others went inside to make sure the fire was out.

The company has a salt bath nitriding line. Large cylinders contain a hot solution that reacts with water. It appears there was a chemical reaction, causing an explosion.

County EMS workers transported one patient with extensive burns, three other workers were treated on the scene with minor burns and one firefighter sustained a minor ankle injury.

Since a hazardous chemical was involved, responders evacuated the building has been evacuated, but there was no danger or threat to the surrounding area, the city said.

Sponsored Recommendations

Keys to Improving Safety in Chemical Processes (PDF)

Many facilities handle dangerous processes and products on a daily basis. Keeping everything under control demands well-trained people working with the best equipment.

Get Hands-On Training in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment

Enhance the training experience and increase retention by training hands-on in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment. Build skills here so you have them where and when it matters...

Managing and Reducing Methane Emission in Upstream Oil & Gas

Measurement Instrumentation for reducing emissions, improving efficiency and ensuring safety.

Micro Motion 4700 Coriolis Configurable Inputs and Outputs Transmitter

The Micro Motion 4700 Coriolis Transmitter offers a compact C1D1 (Zone 1) housing. Bluetooth and Smart Meter Verification are available.