Vallourec Assesses Damage from Furnace Explosion

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A damage assessment and recovery actions are underway at Vallourec Star following a furnace explosion Wednesday night at the mill.

What Vallourec spokeswoman Jean Gaetano referred to as a “furnace failure” at the mill’s electric arc furnace occurred at approximately 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“A steam disturbance resulted from hot steel coming in contact with water when the EAF shell was breached during the tapping process,” according to a statement emailed from Gaetano. The Youngstown Fire Department and emergency medical services were alerted and came on-site as a precaution.

“The electric furnace had explosively blew out its bottom while in the melt process, causing molten steel to drop onto the pit floor,” Silverio Caggiano, Youngstown Fire Department battalion chief, said in his official report. That started a fire that quickly was extinguished. Utilities to the damaged furnace were turned off and the Vallourec head supervisor did not want any water directed at the furnace for fear of causing a secondary explosion.

“You could clearly see the hot metal. They were going to allow it to cool on its own before going close to it,” Caggiano said in the report. Additionally, some hydraulic fluid was on fire but Vallourec personnel were going to allow it to burn out. The supervisor on-site, Larry Cipriano, declined an offer by YPD to leave a fire engine there.

There were no injuries during the event or the subsequent shutdown and evacuation. The damage estimate is ongoing and Gaetano said she did not know how long that would take.

“Rolling and finishing areas will resume as planned following the scheduled holiday shutdown,” she said. Steel production could resume its normal schedule in the coming days. Customer orders are at no risk currently to being delivered on time.

More than 750 personnel are employed at Vallourec’s three Youngstown units, Vallourec Star, VAM USA and Vallourec USA Corp.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.