May, 1978

This is a repeating event

197830MayAll DayValero (Texas City) Refinery Explosion 1978Valero Texas City (US-TX)Industry:RefiningCountry:United StatesLanguage:ENLoC:Deterioration Origin: Marsh Incident:VCEHazards:FlammableImpact:HUMAN (On Site Fatalities)Effects:1-10 FatalitiesMaterial:Hydrocarbons


A failure led to the release of light hydrocarbons that dispersed and found an ignition source. An intense fire followed in the tank farm. After less than five minutes, a 5,000-bbl storage sphere failed, resulting in a large fireball and rocketed pieces of the sphere throughout the plant. Within the next 20 minutes, five 1,000-bbl horizontal vessels, four 1,000 bbl vertical vessels, and one additional 5,000 bbl sphere failed, either as a result of missile damage or due to a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE). Pieces of the tanks travelled in all directions, falling into operating units and tank farms, starting more fires. Fragments also hit the firewater storage tank and electric fire pumps, leaving only the two diesel fire pumps operational.

[ Property Damage $55 Million. Estimated Current Value $211 Million ]

Image credit: Valero