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The explosion at the Dow chemical factory, King’s Lynn. 27th June 1976

Accident summary

At approximately 17:10 hours on the 27th June 1976 an explosion occurred killing one man and causing extensive damage to the plant and adjacent buildings.

The explosion involved a detonation of zoalene, which is used as a poultry feed additive.

The following factors may have contributed in the circumstances leading up to the explosion:

The fundamental reason for this incident was a general lack of knowledge of the destructive potential of zoalene at adiabatic conditions. Neither the management nor the operating personnel were criticised for undertaking and conducting the operations that led to the explosion.

Failings in technical measures


Health and Safety Executive, ‘The explosion at the Dow chemical factory, King’s Lynn 27 June 1976’, HMSO, ISBN 011 8830 03 1, 1976.

FP Lees, ‘Loss prevention in the process industries – Hazard identification, assessment and control’, Volume 3, Appendix 1, Butterworth Heinemann, ISBN 0 7506 1547 8, 1996.