Incidents 2001-2005

Incidents 2001-2005 2018-08-15T15:51:00+00:00
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2001

El Paso Refinery – Aruba, Dutch Antilles

El Paso Refinery – Aruba, Dutch Antilles 2001

A faulty valve led to an oil spill that auto-ignited. The flames spread to nearby equipment and set off a series of explosions, making it difficult for firefighters to battle the flames. The fire was extinguished after three and a half hours. Three people suffered minor injuries during evacuation. Experts estimated property damage at USD 159 million.

2001

Los Angeles Refinery – Carson, California

Los Angeles Refinery – Carson, California 2001

A piping leak caused a fire to break out in the refinery’s coker unit. More than 100 firefighters battled the blaze for three hours. The refinery’s owner, Tosco Corp., shut down the coker unit for approximately two months. Property damage was estimated at USD 120 million.

2001

Citgo Refinery – Lemont, Illinois

Citgo Refinery – Lemont, Illinois 2001

A ruptured pipe elbow in the refinery’s crude-distillation unit caused a fuel spill that auto-ignited. Firefighters put out the flames in a few hours. The blaze exacerbated pre-existing structural flaws in a distillation tower, causing the structure to collapse three days later. Citgo suffered property damages estimated at USD 145 million and had to shut down the crude unit for more than nine months. In 2006, Citgo won USD 387 million in a compensation lawsuit against Babcock & Wilcox, the company that manufactured the pipe.

2001

Orion Refinery – Norco, Louisiana

Orion Refinery – Norco, Louisiana 2001

Lightning ignited this blaze, which holds the Guinness World Record for biggest fuel-tank fire in history. After 12 hours of preparation, firefighters defeated the flames in 65 minutes by continuously spraying foam while pumping residual gasoline out of the 82m-diameter tank. Roughly one third of its 10 million-gallon (37 million-liter) capacity went up in smoke. Direct damage was estimated at USD 50 million, which does not include production shortfall, brand-image depreciation and environmental pollution.

2001

Petroleum Fuel and Terminal Oil Co. – Granite City, Illinois

Petroleum Fuel and Terminal Oil Co. – Granite City, Illinois 2001

Disaster struck this facility twice during the summer of 2001. An unexplained fire burned up 400,000 gallons of asphalt fuel in a 15,900m3 tank. After 15 hours of smoke and flames, firefighters applied foam and extinguished the blaze in 45 minutes. A month later, a second fire started as workers tried to warm up the remaining asphalt in order to transfer it into a new tank. This second fire consumed 378,000 gallons of asphalt.

2002

Trzebinia Refinery – Malopolska, Poland

Trzebinia Refinery – Malopolska, Poland 2002

A lightning bolt triggered this full-surface fire at a 30m-diameter tank with an internal floating roof. A semi-fixed extinguishment system began applying foam, but the process had to be terminated immediately due to system damage. It took 362 firefighters five hours to put out the flames by blanketing them with 109.5 tons of foam, using 13 foam monitors supplied by 35 vehicles. Damages were estimated at USD 2.3 million.

2002

Cabras Island - Hagatna, Guam

Cabras Island – Hagatna, Guam 2002

A buildup of static electricity sparked this fire as Super Typhoon Pongsona pounded the island. The flames persisted for six days, destroying three fuel tanks and prompting officials to ban gasoline sales to the public. The first tank to catch fire contained less than 15% of its total capacity of unleaded gasoline. Damage was estimated at USD 20 million.

2002

Houston Fuel and Oil Terminal Fire – Houston, Texas

Houston Fuel and Oil Terminal Fire – Houston, Texas 2002

The fire started after a fuel pipeline burst. The flames spread to a giant tank containing 30,000 barrels of residual fuel oil, an asphalt-like residue. Firefighters extinguished the blaze nearly five hours later with the help of 20 fire and foam trucks and a local emergency team. The accident cost at least USD 1.2 million.

2002

SAMIR Refinery –Mohammedia, Morocco

SAMIR Refinery –Mohammedia, Morocco 2002

Heavy rains triggered a flood that engulfed the Mohammedia refinery, the biggest in Morocco. Waste oil floating on the water’s surface ignited when it came into contact with hot refinery components and quickly developed into a massive blaze. Two people were killed and three were reported missing. It took more than a year for SAMIR to restore production capacity of 125,000 barrels per day. Experts said the blaze inflicted as much as $200 million in property damages.

2002

Raudhatain Oil Field – Kuwait

Raudhatain Oil Field – Kuwait 2002

The blaze broke out after a leak from an underground oil pipeline spread to a power substation, causing a massive explosion that killed four people. The ensuing fire spread to an oil-gathering center and a gas-booster station. It took firefighters two days to extinguish the flames, which injured a further 19 people. Experts estimated property damages at USD 180 million.

2003

Idemitsu Kosan Refinery – Tomakomai, Hokkaido, Japan

Idemitsu Kosan Refinery – Tomakomai, Hokkaido, Japan 2003

A blaze broke after a powerful earthquake struck, causing a floating roof to sink into a storage tank containing naphtha. Some 134 firefighters swung into action, but high winds and the force of the fire made it difficult for them to apply foam where necessary. The flames died out after 44 hours, consuming all 26,000 kiloliters of naphtha. The foam contaminated nearby residential areas. The accident caused damages of USD 88.7 million.

2003

Digboi Refinery – Guwahati, India

Digboi Refinery – Guwahati, India 2003

This disaster was the result of a terrorist attack by the United Liberation Front of Assam, whose rebels fired a mortar at a petroleum tank at night. Witnesses said the flames shot up as high as 100m. Some 70 firefighters worked for 56 hours to prevent the blaze from spreading to other tanks. The preliminary loss was estimated at over INR 100 million (USD 1.6 million).

2003

Gdansk Oil Refinery – Gdansk, Poland

Gdansk Oil Refinery – Gdansk, Poland 2003

An explosion triggered this full-surface fire in a tank holding 19,100m3 of gasoline. The blast blew the cone lid off the tank and caused the internal roof to sink. Three workers were killed. It took firefighters 10 hours to extinguish the blaze, which inflicted losses estimated at USD 5.3 million.

2003

Athabasca Oil Sands Project – Fort McMurray, Canada

Athabasca Oil Sands Project – Fort McMurray, Canada 2003

This facility, majority-owned by Shell Canada, had been operational for just over a week when a hydrocarbon leak sparked explosions and a fire. The blaze broke out near a solvent-recovery unit at the facility’s Muskeg River mine, seriously damaging infrastructure and forcing a delay in the production of bitumen. Firefighters extinguished the flames in two hours and only one minor injury was reported. Experts put property damages at USD 120 million.

2004

Formosa Plastics PVC Unit – Illiopolis, Illinois

Formosa Plastics PVC Unit – Illiopolis, Illinois 2004

Five workers died and two others were critically injured when an explosion occurred in a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) production unit. The blast demolished 50-75% of the plant. Total damage was estimated at USD 100 million.

2004

Port Kembla Industrial Site – New South Wales, Australia

Port Kembla Industrial Site – New South Wales, Australia 2004

A welding mishap caused an explosion in a tank holding 5 million liters of ethanol. The blast blew the lid off the 32m-diameter tank and shook buildings as far as 25km away. It took firefighters 20 hours to extinguish the resulting blaze, which caused estimated losses of USD 8 million. The tank’s owner, Manildra Inc., was fined AUD 160,000 (USD 118,000) while the manager faced penalties of AUD 16,000.

2004

Petrowidada Chemical Plant – Gresik, Indonesia

Petrowidada Chemical Plant – Gresik, Indonesia 2004

An overheated machine touched off massive explosion that one witness compared to a volcano eruption. The resulting fire engulfed at least two chemical tanks. The disaster killed two people, injured 68 and destroyed five nearby houses. Authorities evacuated some 250 people from the surrounding area. Experts put property damages as high as USD 100 million.

2005

BP America Refinery – Texas City, Texas

BP America Refinery – Texas City, Texas 2005

One of the worst industrial disasters in recent U.S. history occurred when a hydrocarbon vapor cloud caught fire and exploded, spreading flames over a 19,000m2 area. The blast killed 15 people and injured 170. Federal authorities slapped BP with a USD 21 million fine and issued 270 safety citations. In 2009, authorities determined that BP still had not resolved the safety problems and imposed additional penalties of USD 87.4 million. The two sides settled most of the outstanding violations by 2012. BP paid a total of USD 84.6 million in fines and suffered cumulative financial losses exceeding USD 1.5 billion.

2005

Buncefield Oil Terminal – Buncefield, England

Buncefield Oil Terminal – Buncefield, England 2005

Overflow from a petroleum tank led to the rapid formation of a fuel-air vapor cloud that ignited, causing multiple explosions. The fire spread to 20 storage tanks and consumed 273 million liters of fuel. It took 180 firefighters four days to put out the flames with support from 25 fire engines and 20 support vehicles. Some 244 people required medical aid. Damages were estimated at GBP 1 billion (USD 1.8 billion). Investigators later determined that a large quantity of fuel had leached out during the blaze, contaminating water resources.

2005

Suncor Energy – Fort McMurray, Canada

Suncor Energy – Fort McMurray, Canada 2005

Suncor company officials blamed this fire on a defective nozzle at the oil-sands refinery. Firefighters extinguished the flames after nine hours in temperatures as low as -35 celsius; the water they used froze, inflicting additional damage on the facility. Oil production at the unit dropped more than 50% for eight months. Insurers paid Suncor CAD 979 million (USD 813 million) to cover business interruption and CAD 148 million for property damages. In late 2006, Suncor sued the companies whose engineers had designed the facility, including Bantrel Co. and Bechtel Group Inc., for CAD 630 million on behalf of its insurers.

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