November, 1987

This is a repeating event

198714NovAll DayPampa Explosion 1987Celanese Chemicals Pampa (US-TX)Lessons:Competency,Operational Integrity,Risk AssessmentIndustry:PetrochemicalsCountry:United StatesLanguage:ENLoC:Confined explosion,Operator error Origin: Marsh Incident:VCEHazards:FlammableImpact:HUMAN (On Site Fatalities)Effects:1-10 FatalitiesMaterial:Butane


An explosion occurred in an air line in a reactor used for the liquid phase oxidation of butane as it was being started up. The explosion ruptured the external portion of the air line to the reactor, allowing the reactor contents to vaporize and form a cloud. The vapor cloud drifted and ignited about 25 to 30 seconds after the initial release. There was extensive property damage in the immediate area as a result of the vapor cloud explosion and significant damage throughout the site. Windows were broken seven miles away. The immediate cause was believed to be insufficient purging of the reactor when it had previously been down.

[ Property Damage $215 Million. Estimated Current Value $516 Million ]

Image credit: The Center For Land Use Interpretation