While explosions at petrochemical facilities are relatively rare, they can be devastating and cause widespread damage.
On November 27, 2019, an explosion at a petrochemical plant in Port Neches, Texas, produced a blast that was felt up to 30 miles away, damaged surrounding homes, and forced the evacuation of everyone within a half-mile radius around the plant. Several employees were injured, and a second blast happened 13 hours later, followed by several smaller explosions and a fire that burned for days. Since the blast involved the petrochemical 1,3-Butadiene, it produced a health hazard for everyone on-site as well as the surrounding community. It was the largest dollar loss fire or explosion in the United States in 2019, costing roughly $1.1 billion. The results can be fatal for workers on the job site during an explosion. On April 11, 2022, an explosion at a chemical plant in Gujarat, India, was fatal for six workers.
Blasts don't have to be deadly to be devastating. Depending on a person's proximity to the blast, an explosion can rupture eardrums, cause blunt force trauma from flying debris, or throw a body through the air. These injuries are unrelated to any fire that a blast may cause. During an explosion, even light objects become projectiles, and buildings damaged or under construction can easily crush workers if they can't stand up to the force. Overpressure as low as 1 - 2 psi can cause windows to shatter and cause lacerations and gouges, while a 15 psi blast can damage a person's lungs.
Blast resistant buildings protect people from these injuries, and it's crucial to get an accurate psi rating on your building that matches the potential destruction that can result from a petrochemical blast.