Major incidents in the oil and gas industries highlight the importance of having robust processes and systems in place. Process safety is especially important for the oil and gas industry and aids in the prevention of incidents. When incidents do occur, they result in the release of hazardous materials and have huge environmental aspects. As seen in the 3 incidents below, process safety incidents are lethal and very costly.
The explosion was caused by the failure of a heat exchanger, which resulted in 2 workers killed and 114 injured. A rupture in the heat exchanger caused a vapour cloud which was ignited by an unknown source, causing the explosion. Investigations by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) revealed that the plant had 6 process safety management standard violations.
- Chevron Refinery Fire
A large fire erupted in the number 4 crude distillation unit, caused by a diesel leak in a line in the crude distillation unit. The flames were put out about 5 hours later. Reports estimated that more than 15,000 people sought treatment for respiratory problems and 6 employees who were at the scene of the fire suffered varying degrees of injury. In 2013, the company pleaded no contest to six charges in connection with the fire, and agreed to pay $2 million in fines and restitution.
- Tesoro Refinery Fatal Explosion and Fire
An explosion and fire led to the fatal injury of 7 employees when a nearly 40 year-old heat exchanger catastrophically failed during a maintenance operation to switch a process stream between two parallel banks of exchangers at the Tesoro refinery. The pressure-containing shell of the heat exchanger burst at its weld seams, expelling a large volume of very hot hydrogen and naphtha, which spontaneously ignited upon contact with the surrounding air. The accident was the state’s worst industrial disaster in 50 years.
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Interested to read more articles about Process Safety? Check out 3 Lethal Process Safety Incidents
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