Final report release into 2017 deadly boiler explosion in Soulard

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 10:35 AM CDT
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SOULARD, Mo. (KMOV) - Three years later, the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released its final report after a massive boiler exploded at the Loy-Lange Box Company on Russell Boulevard, leaving four dead in Soulard.

On April 3, 2017, a large industrial boiler exploded at the Loy-Lange Box Company on Russell Boulevard. A substantial piece of the boiler then traveled around 500 feet and crashed through the roof of the Faultless Healthcare Linen building.

Kenneth Trentham, 59, was killed in the initial explosion at the box company. When the equipment crashed into the Faultless Healthcare Linen building it struck two employees, 43-year-old Tonya Gonzalez-Suarez and 46-year-old Christopher Watkins, killing them. A fourth person, Clifford Lee, 53, was trapped under the hot boiler after it crashed into Faultless Healthcare Linen. He later died as a result of his injuries.

The CSB discovered an area of the failed pressure vessel had thinned due to a known corrosion mechanism that was poorly controlled and Loy-Lange repeatedly ignored clear warnings that corrosion was causing major problems within its operations.

“A tragic series of circumstances contributed to the explosion at Loy-Lange: ineffective corrosion management, poor pressure vessel repair, a lack of inspections of the vessel, and the absence of sound safety management systems,” CSB Interim Executive Steve Owens said, “Those factors led to a severely corroded pressure vessel that presented a serious safety hazard but was allowed to operate until it ultimately failed, taking the lives of four people.”

The CSB determined that the cause of the explosion was deficiencies in Loy-Lange’s operations, policies, and process safety practices that failed to prevent or mitigate chronic corrosion.

Survivors and relatives of those killed in a deadly industrial explosion in 2017 on the edge of Soulard have agreed to a settlement of more than $47 million.