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Water ingress into phosphorous oxychloride reaction

Incident

Piping on top of reactor burst and 20 kg of HCl gas were released, this contaminated a major part of the building

The Investigation

A Phosphorous oxychloride solution required disposal.  100 litres of water and 200 litres of sodium hydroxide were to be charged to the reactor and warmed to 40-60°C.  Then a controlled addition of the phosphorous oxychloride solution from an addition flask into the reactor.  The first batch were without incident, however on the second batch the phosphorous oxychloride solution was sucked straight into the reactor instead of the addition flask.  Beacuse the reactor was wet from the first batch, a violent reaction between the phosphorous oxychloride and the water took place, the pressure got higher and higher, the operator at this point ran away.  This was followed by the piping rupturing.

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