Video Shows Chemical Plant Blast

Thursday, January 26, 2017 @ 05:01 PM gHale


Heat exchanger shown after the blast at the Williams Olefins Plant in Geismar, Louisiana.

Heat exchanger shown after the blast at the Williams Olefins Plant in Geismar, Louisiana.

A deadly explosion and fire occurred at the Williams Olefins Plant in Geismar, Louisiana, when a heat exchanger containing flammable liquid propane violently ruptured and the Chemcal Safety Board (CSB) released a chilling video detailing the blast.

The video gives details in the blast which killed two workers and injured an additional 167 on June 13, 2013.

RELATED STORIES
Poor Process Safety Mgt Led to Fatal Chem Plant Blast
Communication Weak in WV River Chemical Leak
Safety Alert: WA Refinery Blast Cause
Tesoro Safety Culture Needs to Change: CSB

The deadly explosion and fire occurred when a heat exchanger containing flammable liquid propane violently ruptured.

The CSB’s newly released 12-minute safety video entitled, “Blocked In,” includes a 3D animation of the explosion and fire.

“Our investigation on the explosion at Williams describes an ineffective process safety management program at the plant at the time of the incident,” said CSB Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland. “We urge other companies to incorporate our recommendations at their facilities and to assess the state of their cultures to promote safety at all organizational levels to prevent a similar accident.”

The CSB’s investigation found process safety management program deficiencies at Williams, which set the stage for the incident. In particular, the CSB found the heat exchanger that failed ended up completely isolated from its pressure relief valve.

“When evaluating overpressure protection requirements for heat exchangers, engineers must think about how to manage potential scenarios, including unintentional hazards,” said CSB investigator Lauren Grim in the video. “In this case, simply having a pressure relief valve available could have prevented the explosion.”

The CSB investigation found in the 12 years leading to the incident, a series of process safety management program deficiencies caused the heat exchanger to end up unprotected from overpressure.

As revealed in the investigation, Management of Change Reviews, Pre-Startup Safety Reviews, and Process Hazard Analyses all failed to effectively identify and control the hazard. In addition, the CSB found Williams failed to develop a written procedure for activities performed on the day of the incident, nor did the company have a routine maintenance schedule to prevent the operational heat exchanger from shutting down for cleaning.

The video describes CSB’s recommendations made to the Williams Geismar plant which encourages similar companies to review and incorporate into their own facilities. These include:
• Conduct safety culture assessments that involve workforce participation, and communicate the results in reports that recommend specific actions to address safety culture weaknesses
• Develop a robust safety indicators tracking program that uses the data identified to drive continual safety improvement
• And perform comprehensive process safety program assessments to thoroughly evaluate the effectiveness of the facility’s process safety programs.

“Managers must implement and then monitor safety programs and encourage a strong culture of safety to protect workers and the environment,” Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said.



Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.