April, 2010

This is a repeating event

201002AprAll DayTesoro (Anacortes) Refinery Explosion 2010Tesoro Anacortes (US-WA) Origin: CSB Lessons:Asset integrity,Commitment & Culture,Compliance with Standards,Control of WorkIndustry:RefiningCountry:United StatesLanguage:ENLoC:Deterioration

Summary

On April 2, 2010, the Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company LLC (‘Tesoro’) petroleum refinery in Anacortes, Washington (‘the Tesoro Anacortes Refinery’), experienced a catastrophic rupture of a heat exchanger in the Catalytic Reformer / Naphtha Hydrotreater unit (‘the NHT unit’). The heat exchanger, known as E-6600E (‘the E heat exchanger’), catastrophically ruptured because of High Temperature Hydrogen Attack (HTHA). Highly flammable hydrogen and naphtha at more than 500 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) were released from the ruptured heat exchanger and ignited, causing an explosion and an intense fire that burned for more than three hours. The rupture fatally injured seven Tesoro employees (one shift supervisor and six operators) who were working in the immediate vicinity of the heat exchanger at the time of the incident. To date this is the largest fatal incident at a US petroleum refinery since the BP Texas City accident in March 2005.

The NHT unit at the Tesoro Anacortes Refinery contained two parallel groups, or banks, of three heat exchangers (A/B/C and D/E/F) used to preheat process fluid before it entered a reactor, where impurities were treated for subsequent removal. The E heat exchanger was constructed of carbon steel.

At the time of the release, the Tesoro workers were in the final stages of a startup activity to put the A/B/C bank of heat exchangers back in service following cleaning. The D/E/F heat exchangers remained in service during this operation. Because of the refinery’s long history of frequent leaks and occasional fires during this startup activity, the CSB considers this work to be hazardous and nonroutine. While the operations staff was performing the startup operations, the E heat exchanger in the middle of the operating D/E/F bank catastrophically ruptured. .

KEY ISSUES:
• INHERENTLY SAFER DESIGN
• TESORO PROCESS SAFETY CULTURE
• CONTROL OF NONROUTINE WORK
• MECHANICAL INTEGRITY INDUSTRY STANDARD DEFICIENCIES
• REGULATORY OVERSIGHT OF PETROLEUM REFINERIES

ROOT CAUSES:
1. High Temperature Hydrogen Attack
2. NHT Heat Exchanger Flanges – A History of Leaking
3. Hazardous Nonroutine Work
4. Process Hazard Analyses Failed to Prevent or Reduce the Consequences


Image credit: CSB

Origin

CSBUS Chemical Safety Board

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