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The PEPCON Explosion

             On May 4, 1988 at the Pacific Engineering and Production Company of Nevada (PEPCON), a large fire of ammonium perchlorate (AP) quickly ensued. Two large explosions occurred during this fire, measuring 3.0 and 3.5 on the Richter scale, and were equivalent to an explosion of hundreds of tons of TNT. This even claimed the lives of two plant workers, injured 372 people, and caused over $70 million in property damage. This paper looks at what caused the fire, and if it could have been prevented. There were dozens of issues with the PEPCON facility, and it's staff. The biggest issues being the large amounts of AP being improperly stored, the lack of knowledge on how to fight fires, and the large amounts of AP around the facility as a result of poor house cleaning. The building also had some major engineering flaws in it, including the building being made of combustible materials, and a lack of sprinkler systems, or fire alarm systems. These tragic events caused a fair bit of policy change in the industry, and made law makers more aware of the dangers of storing large amounts of ammonium perchlorate without proper care.
             Ammonium Perchlorate Explosion at PEPCON: Disaster Analysis.
             On may 4th, 1988, workers were trying to repair a wind damaged structure at the chemical plant, PEPCON, sparks from their welding torch set the fiberglass buildings on fire, and soon the whole plant was engulfed in flames. PEPCON's massive stockpiles of the powerful oxidizer ammonium perchlorate were quickly set ablaze, and later exploded. The explosions were the largest domestic, non-nuclear explosion in history. This disaster completely destroyed the PEPCON facility, a neighboring marshmallow factory, and dozens of other structures in the town of Henderson. This papers looks at how the fire was started, what could have been done differently to prevent such a disaster, and what laws and policies did this affect in the industry.

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