- On March 23, 2005, during the startup of an isomerization unit following a maintenance turnaround, a series of explosions occurred at the BP refinery in Texas City, Texas. The incident fatally injured 15 workers and injured an additional 180 workers. During the startup, a distillation tower flooded with flammable hydrocarbons and was over-pressurized. This activated the tower’s emergency pressure-relief system, which created a geyser-like release from the vent stack and formed a flammable vapor cloud that soon ignited and exploded.
CSB Board Member Catherine Sandoval said, “OSHA requires employers to provide a safe workplace. Effective and safe pressure relief systems help ensure safe operations of plants across the country.”
Using findings from these four incidents the CSB’s safety alert issues three key lessons for facilities.
- Follow existing good practice guidance.
- Evaluate whether the atmosphere is the appropriate discharge location or if there are safer alternatives.
- Ensure hazardous chemicals vented into the atmosphere discharge to a safe location.
The alert also calls on companies to evaluate and, when appropriate, update their emergency pressure relief systems to prevent future incidents and protect workers and surrounding communities from harm.
Board Member Sylvia Johnson said, “Our safety alert calls on companies to evaluate and, when appropriate, update their emergency pressure relief systems to prevent future incidents and protect workers and surrounding communities from harm.”
The CSB’s core mission activities include conducting incident investigations; formulating preventive or mitigative recommendations based on investigation findings and advocating for their implementation; issuing reports containing the findings, conclusions, and recommendations arising from incident investigations; and conducting studies on chemical hazards.
The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and subject to Senate confirmation. The Board does not issue citations or fines but makes safety recommendations to companies, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA.
McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.