Public listens to CSB findings

(Source: US Chemical Safety Board)
(Source: US Chemical Safety Board)

By Christy Hutchings - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - We're learning more from the US Chemical and Safety Board on what happened at Imperial Sugar the night of February 7, 2008.

Thursday, the CSB released its report and some new images to the public, starting with a recreation of what the CSB says caused the explosions that killed 14 people and injured dozens more.

See CSB final report of Imperial Sugar explosion.

According to the CSB, a bearing near a conveyer belt overheated and ignited sugar dust which exploded under the three sugar silos at the Port Wentworth plant.

They say the impact dislodged other sugar dust, sparking a second and much larger explosion. The CSB believes that's likely the blast that killed those 14 workers.

The CSB also says Imperial Sugar could have prevented the explosions with better sugar dust collection equipment, maintenance and housekeeping.

See CSB: Imperial ignored dangers of combustible dust.

The board approved the findings Thursday night and revealed them to the community. Present at that public meeting were several people who lived through that blast and inferno.

They also saw an animation of what the CSB says happened and footage of the actual explosions caught on security cameras for the first time.

Patricia Grant Singleton, a survivor of the explosion, said the animation in the video was too much to take.

"It's a nightmare. That's my life every day, just seeing that every day," said Singleton as she fought back tears.

Singleton wasn't burned, but remembers that night vividly, especially the moments leading up to the blast. She still can't believe what happened nor does she want to.

"I can't go back," said Singleton about visiting Imperial Sugar. "I can't even go on that side of town. I just can't."

While she can't go back to the place that has caused her so much pain, she had to know what caused the explosion which is why she was at the meeting.

"I was finally glad to know how this actually happened that night," said Singleton. "At least we'll be one step ahead and hopefully this will never happen again."

With the board voting to approve the recommendations by investigators, the hope is that there will now be tougher legislation to make certain this doesn't happen again.

If you missed Thursday's public meeting with CSB, you can see comments on the report, board discussion/amendments and the final vote by going to

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