December, 2020

This is a repeating event

202003DecAll DayMarcus Oil & Chemical Explosion 2004Marcus Oil and Chemical Houston (US-TX) Origin: CSB Lessons:Asset integrity,Operating ProceduresIndustry:ChemicalsCountry:United StatesLanguage:ENLoC:DeficiencyIncident:VCEHazard:FlammableCause:Containment FailureImpact:HUMAN (Offsite Injuries)Consequence:< 100 InjuriesMaterial:Polyethylene

Summary

An explosion and fire that occurred in a polyethylene wax processing facility operated by Marcus Oil and Chemical on the southwest side of Houston, Texas. On Friday, December 3, 2004, at about 5:50 pm, employees heard a loud “pop” then saw light from a fire reflecting off a shiny tanker truck parked near the process equipment. About 45 seconds later, a violent explosion occurred and a fire fueled by molten wax erupted near the main warehouse. The warehouse and nearby equipment were quickly involved in the fire.

The Houston Fire Department arrived approximately five minutes after the explosion. Firefighters extinguished the three-alarm blaze by midnight, approximately seven hours after the explosion.

Three firefighters were slightly injured while fighting the fire, and local residents sustained minor injuries from flying glass. The explosion shattered windows in buildings and vehicles and caused structural damage as far as one-quarter mile away. Significant interior damage resulted when suspended ceilings and light fixtures were blown down in the onsite buildings, nearby businesses, and a church. Tank 7, a 12-foot diameter, 50-foot long, 50,000-pound pressure vessel was propelled 150 feet where it impacted a warehouse belonging to another business..

KEY ISSUES:
• PRESSURE VESSEL REPAIRS & ALTERATIONS
• NITROGEN INERTING SYSTEM DESIGN & OPERATION

ROOT CAUSES:
1. Poor welding severely weakened Tank 7 and led to its catastrophic failure.
2. The connection between the nitrogen and the compressed air systems increased the oxygen concentration in the inerting gas to an unsafe level.
3. Pressure vessels had operating pressures in excess of 100 psig, yet none was equipped with a pressure relief device.


Image Credit: CSB

Origin

CSBUS Chemical Safety Board

Time

Thu 3 Dec 2020 - Thu 3 Dec 2020

Location

Marcus

Marcus Oil, 14549 Minetta St, Houston, TX 77035, United States

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