Well boat fire: One spark was all it took to trigger the fatal explosion

Editorial staff

Police have issued a fine of $40,000 to equipment supplier MMC First Process following a fatal accident.

In October 2020, a fire broke out aboard the new well boat, Hordagut docked at the Fitjar Mekaniske Verksted shipyard in Western Norway.

One person, 48-year-old Robert Bogdan Chorzewski, a Polish national, died in the fire.

The supplier of the fish handling systems on board the Hordagut, was aquaculture equipment company MMC First Process.

The victim was working in a tank when a spark from an angle grinder ignited oxygen that was being pumped through the ship, causing a fatal explosion, according to Norwegian public broadcaster NRK.

Well boats, which are used to transport live fish are dependent on access to large amounts of oxygen. During a test of the new equipment, oxygen was circulated throughout the vessel.

Several valves were open in the area where Chorzewski was working. A single spark was enough to ignite the fatal blaze.

“They started a work operation without checking if the valve, which was supposed to lead the oxygen out to the open air, was open,” police investigator Pal Jaeger-Pedersen told NRK.

“Furthermore, several other valves were open, and this had very serious consequences.”

Police believe that MMC First Process was acting in violation of several work place safety laws and contrary to fire and explosion protection guidance.

They have now issued the company a fine of NOK 400,000 ($40,000) following the fatal accident.

MMC First Process has accepted the fine:

“The Fitjar accident in 2020 was very tragic. It’s a complex case with many circumstances involving multiple parties. Since we want to put the case behind us, we have accepted the fine,” a spokesperson wrote in an email to NRK.


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