Tank Explodes at Otter Creek

A fermentation tank at Otter Creek Brewing in Vermont exploded Monday, but nobody was hurt.

The Addison County Independent reported that emergency personnel rushed to the scene to make sure that a second explosion did not occur.

Middlebury fire chief Rick Cole said the explosion damaged piping and knocked over two or three other tanks, but that there was no fire and the beer that spilled was mostly contained within the building. The explosion also blew a wall panel off of the side of the building between two outdoor tanks.

The company indicated it would resume full operations later this week.

Comments

  1. dick murton says

    Ouch. I’ve had the misfortune to have vessels collapsed on my shift, but never an explosion

    No pressure relief valve, or grossly undersized one, blocked vent, lousy welding ?? Poor insurance inspection must have allowed this possibility.

    Whatever the cause(s), I wouldn’t go anywhere near that supplier again.

  2. almalkin says

    Here’s a quote from Danial Fulham, via the Addison County Independant, regarding the cause of the accident:

    Fulham said a backup valve designed to let off pressure from the fermenting beer failed on one of the brewery’s smaller tanks, which contained Wolaver’s Brown Ale. The explosion also knocked over another 40-barrel (1,240-gallon) tank of Wolaver’s IPA.

    “The valve was faulty,” said Fulham. “We’re proud of our safety record here, and we’ve redoubled our efforts to make sure all of our backup devices were working.”

  3. Lagergnome says

    PRV’s should be calibrated. I would never trust my life to a PRV that was set by someone else. Most have a removable top cover that is threaded. Inside on the top is a place where a wrench will fit across or in some cases, a large flat tip screwdriver. Beneath that piece is a ball/gasket and spring. The ‘righty tighty-lefty loosey’ rule applies. Remove the PRV…inspect and see that it turns freely with a wrench or screwdriver. Loosen the PRV several turns, but not completely apart…the spring will shoot out and you will have a bad time trying to put it back together. Just loosen so that you can test the relief pressure.

    Connect the PRV to a CO2 supply set to 5psi. *Be sure to point the PRV away from your face or anything that you presently love in this life. Slowly tighten the PRV internal parts until Gas no longer escapes. Turn the CO2 up to 8…10….12….14.7(if your tank is rated for this pressure). Keep tightening the PRV until gas no longer escapes. Once the pressure is set for your PRV…Do a final check and set your regulator for 1-2psi above the calibration pressure. CO2 should leak out of the valve for pressure relief…if it does not leak out when you exceed your calibration pressure…replace it. I don’t have an easy way to test the vacuum relief that should be built into all PRV’s manufactured after 1996, I usually just push down on the internal spring assembly and see that it does move down with force. I suppose you could hook it up to a vacuum pump and see that it gives relief at a set pressure, hopefully before it crushes your tank like a tin can.
    Cheers!

  4. mr.jay says

    Dear Mr. Administrator….Accidents seem to be a recurring theme lately for our industry. I would like to propose implementing a message board dedicated to safety / brewery protocol.

  5. wailingguitar says

    mr.jay wrote: Dear Mr. Administrator….Accidents seem to be a recurring theme lately for our industry. I would like to propose implementing a message board dedicated to safety / brewery protocol.

    Second!!!!

  6. Fullcourt says

    mr.jay wrote: Dear Mr. Administrator….Accidents seem to be a recurring theme lately for our industry. I would like to propose implementing a message board dedicated to safety / brewery protocol.

    great idea!!!

  7. dlgore says

    Lagergnome wrote: PRV’s should be calibrated. I would never trust my life to a PRV that was set by someone else. Most have a removable top cover that is threaded. Inside on the top is a place where a wrench will fit across or in some cases, a large flat tip screwdriver. Beneath that piece is a ball/gasket and spring. The ‘righty tighty-lefty loosey’ rule applies. Remove the PRV…inspect and see that it turns freely with a wrench or screwdriver. Loosen the PRV several turns, but not completely apart…the spring will shoot out and you will have a bad time trying to put it back together. Just loosen so that you can test the relief pressure.

    Connect the PRV to a CO2 supply set to 5psi. *Be sure to point the PRV away from your face or anything that you presently love in this life. Slowly tighten the PRV internal parts until Gas no longer escapes. Turn the CO2 up to 8…10….12….14.7(if your tank is rated for this pressure). Keep tightening the PRV until gas no longer escapes. Once the pressure is set for your PRV…Do a final check and set your regulator for 1-2psi above the calibration pressure. CO2 should leak out of the valve for pressure relief…if it does not leak out when you exceed your calibration pressure…replace it. I don’t have an easy way to test the vacuum relief that should be built into all PRV’s manufactured after 1996, I usually just push down on the internal spring assembly and see that it does move down with force. I suppose you could hook it up to a vacuum pump and see that it gives relief at a set pressure, hopefully before it crushes your tank like a tin can.
    Cheers!

    Actually, PLEASE DO NOT USE JUST GAS BUT WATER!!!! If you are going to pressure test ANYTHING, fill it with water and THEN apply pressure. Even then it is dangerous work.
    I also second the motion!