The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has released its final report of the June 27, 2016, investigation of an explosion and fire at the Enterprise Products Pascagoula Gas Plant in Pascagoula, MS. The CSB determined that the probable cause was a phenomenon known as thermal fatigue. The CSB also issued recommendations to two trade associations and local emergency responders. The incident occurred late in the evening on June 27, 2016, when a major loss of containment in a heat exchanger resulted in the release of methane, ethane, propane, and several other hydrocarbons. The hydrocarbons ignited, initiating a series of fires and explosions, which ultimately shut down the site for almost six months. CSB Interim Executive Kristen Kulinowski said, “More than 500 gas processing facilities operate across the country and the use of similar heat exchangers is common. Extending the life cycle of equipment at these facilities requires more robust inspection protocols. Operators shouldn’t...
A preliminary report released this week by the Chemical Safety Board blames recent refinery explosions in Superior, WI and Torrance, CA on the inadvertent mixing of hydrocarbons with air inside the Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit that found an ignition source, resulting in an explosion. On April 26, 2018, an explosion (Figure 1) and subsequent fire (Figure 2) occurred at the Superior Refinery Company LLC refinery in Superior, Wisconsin (“Husky Superior Refinery”).1 The incident occurred in the refinery’s Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCCU). As a result of the explosion, thirty-six people sought medical attention, including eleven refinery and contract workers who suffered OSHA recordable injuries. In addition, a portion of Superior,2 Wisconsin was evacuated. Evidence collected to date suggests similarities with a previous investigation of the February 18, 2015 explosion at a refinery in Torrance, CA. On Wednesday, February 18, 2015, an explosion occurred in the ExxonMobil Torrance, California refinery’s...
BILLINGS, MT - A Montana trucking company owner received a jail sentence of one year and a day in prison Friday on charges related to a December 2012 explosion at an oil processing plant that injured three employees. U.S. District Judge Susan Watters ordered Donald Wood, Jr. of Baker and his company, Woody's Trucking, to pay $1.3 million in penalties and restitution. The United States obtained a guilty verdict in United States v. Woody’s Trucking, LLC and Donald E. Wood, Jr. after an eight-day jury trial in Billings, Montana. Both defendants were charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, placarding violations and obstruction of justice stemming from an explosion at an oil and gas processing facility in Wibaux, Montana. The defendants were convicted of 13 of 14 counts. The one count of acquittal related to one of the placarding violations. Forfeiture in the case amounts to $644,689.70. On December 29, 2012,...
Industrial Fire World magazine honored Superior, WI Fire Chief Steve Panger with its 2018 Red Adair Award Friday (Aug. 10) in recognition of his department’s response to the April 26 fire and explosion that rocked the Husky Energy refinery in Superior. For YouTube footage of the presentation, CLICK HERE or see below. "Thank you to Industrial Fire World magazine for keeping the legacy of Red Adair alive," Panger said. "It's people like Red who have made advancements in the world of industrial fire fighting that definitely make our job safer today." A preliminary report by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board states that an initial explosion in a catalytic cracking unit at Husky Energy triggered a 15,000 barrel spill of hot asphalt that spread nearly two hours before ignition. The award, presented during the International Association of Fire Chiefs Fire-Rescue International Conference and Expo in Dallas, TX,...
Superior, Wisconsin, August 2, 2018: Today the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a factual update into its ongoing investigation of the April 26, 2018, explosion and subsequent fires at the Husky Superior Refinery in Superior, Wisconsin. The initial explosion occurred in the refinery’s Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCCU) at approximately 10:00 am while the refinery was shutting down the FCCU for periodic maintenance and inspection. To date the CSB has determined the following: The explosion took place during a planned maintenance shutdown of the refinery FCCU. The incident occurred during a scheduled break time and many workers previously in the unit before the explosion had moved either into blast resistant buildings or away from the process unit. One piece of debris from the explosion flew about 200 feet, and struck a large, nearby, aboveground storage tank containing about 50,000 barrels of asphalt. The side of the tank was punctured,...
Superior, WI - Following an explosion and fire in April, Husky Energy says its Superior refinery is not expected to resume normal operations until 2020. To read the entire article, CLICK HERE. .
Rather than race to the scene, Superior, WI Fire Chief Steve Panger went straight to fire department headquarters when an April 26 refinery explosion rocked the community. Planning for an emergency response on the scale required that day had long been in place, he said. “I knew we’d have callback crews of off-duty personnel reporting immediately,” Panger said. “My immediate job was to manage those crews and cover the fire stations emptied by the initial response to the blast.” As the incident progressed and the stations were backfilled, Panger would move to the command post already set up by Husky Energy personnel. The explosion in a fluid catalytic cracking unit triggered an ongoing fire at the 38,000 bpd refinery that burned for the next eight hours, forcing an evacuation of Superior, population 27,000. Those residents were not allowed to return until the following morning. At the time of the blast, the...
Houston, TX, May 24, 2018: The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released its final investigation report into the August 31, 2017, fire at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas. In the days leading up to the incident, an unprecedented amount of rain fell at the plant due to Hurricane Harvey, causing equipment to flood and fail. As a result, chemicals stored at the plant decomposed and burned, releasing fumes and smoke into the air. CSB Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said, “Our investigation found that there is a significant lack of guidance in planning for flooding or other severe weather events. Based on other government reports, we know that there is a greater likelihood of more severe weather across the country. As we prepare for this year’s hurricane season, it is critical that industry better understand the safety hazards posed by extreme weather events.” The Arkema chemical plant...
A four-person investigative team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is deploying to an incident that reportedly injured 21 workers at the Kuraray America facility in Pasadena, Texas on Saturday morning. The facility manufactures ethylene vinyl-alcohol copolymers, sold as EVALTM. Kuraray America is a Tokyo-based specialty chemical manufacturer. A press release issued by Kuraray states that at the time of the incident, 266 employees and contract personnel were onsite as part of a turnaround with heavy maintenance activities. All have been accounted for. Twenty-one individuals were transported to off-site medical facilities for treatment. Preliminary findings indicate a pressure safety valve released ethylene causing a flash fire in one of our process units. The company continues to work with authorities to complete the investigation. The CSB is an independent, non-regulatory federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical incidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by...
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has released its final investigation report into the February 8, 2017, explosion at the Packaging Corporation of America’s (PCA’s) DeRidder, Louisiana, pulp and paper mill. The incident killed three contract workers that were performing welding and grinding, referred to as “hot work,” above a tank that contained flammable materials. Seven others were injured. CSB Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said, “As seen in this incident, hot work conducted around tanks containing flammable materials can be catastrophic. That is why it is so important for companies to effectively identify, evaluate, and control potential hazards prior to initiation of hot work.” The explosion at PCA occurred during the facility’s annual shutdown. On the day of the incident, contract workers were welding on water piping above and disconnected from a 100,000-gallon-capacity storage tank. The tank contained about ten feet of liquid, called “foul condensate.” The foul condensate...
A four-person investigative team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is deploying to the scene of an incident that reportedly injured multiple workers this morning at the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior, WI. The refinery was shutting down in preparation for a five-week turnaround when an explosion was reported around 10 a.m. CDT April 26th. According to initial reports, several people were transported to area hospitals with injuries. There have been no reports of fatalities. Residents and area schools near the refinery were asked to evacuate due to heavy smoke. The CSB is an independent, non-regulatory federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical incidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems. The Board does not...
Making a proper on-scene assessment of a silo fire that forced an evacuation around a Texas grain mill in September 2017 proved awkward, said Easterly Fire Chief Jim Redden. An auger opening at the base of a 120-foot-tall, 24-foot-diameter storage silo was the only access to the intense flames roaring inside. “Everybody thought the fire was in the very bottom,” Redden said. “But I could see smoke venting from the top of the silo. If the fire was buried under 35 feet of corn you shouldn’t be seeing that smoke.” All that corn encased within eight-inch concrete walls made it difficult for thermal imaging to detect where the bulk of the fire lay, he said. Despite feeding a continuous stream of water into the silo, Redden became increasingly worried about the potential for a grain dust explosion. Grain dust is a highly explosive substance that must be handled carefully. In 1977,...
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board announced today that it will be moving forward with a full investigation into the fatal gas well explosion near Quinton, Oklahoma. The explosion fatally injured five workers. Upon notification of the incident, the CSB deployed two investigators to gather additional facts to assist the Board in making a decision regarding the scope of the investigation. Investigators arrived on site Wednesday morning and met with the lease holder for the well and the drilling operator. CSB investigators will continue to meet with well service providers and the well site consultant company that had employees on site at the time of the incident. Evidence preservation and collection is the initial focus of the investigation. The CSB is an independent, non-regulatory federal agency whose mission is to drive chemical safety change through independent investigations to protect people and the environment. The agency’s board members are appointed by the...