Refining our knowledge of the past is critical to preventing similar disasters from happening again. While many refinery accidents are avoidable, some are especially horrific. Refinery fires and explosions can have catastrophic consequences, and they can cause significant damage to communities. Fortunately, these unfortunate incidents are rare. Here are three examples of US refinery fires and explosions.
Oil refinery explosions
Refineries have been at the center of some of US history’s worst oil refinery explosions. The explosions of 1980 at the Phillips 66 refinery sent flames 300 feet into the air and destroyed dozens of homes. Dozens of people got injured despite the fire being suppressed. Twelve explosions and fires occurred in the Texas City, Texas, oil refinery complex.
In the 2008 BP refinery explosion, part of the refinery was destroyed, and four workers were injured. The incident also caused the evacuation of 60,000 residents in a four-mile radius. In addition to the fatality toll, the refinery operator was fined $298,000 for environmental violations and fired 270 workers. In addition to this devastating refinery explosion, the refinery has a checkered safety record, with violations as far back as 14 years.
In 1975, a fire broke out in a Gulf refinery. The blaze ignited a 75,000-barrel tank of hydrocarbons. The vapors then accumulated near a boiler house, where they ignited. Another massive explosion followed. The Gulf refinery complex was almost destroyed.
The BP refinery explosion was the most severe oil refinery accident in recent years. BP PLC was found responsible for the disaster and paid a record fine by OSHA. The oil giant was also found to have not conducted a comprehensive inspection for more than a decade. In addition, OSHA only did a few inspections of refineries in the same period.
Oil refinery fires
The 1989 Gulf refinery explosion, the largest of its kind in US history, left eight people dead and more than $10 million in property damage. The explosion sparked a task force to investigate refinery and oil-related incidents in the area. It was expected that a task force would also be established to investigate the deadly fire aboard the Greek oil tanker Corinthos. The explosion caused fine dust and metal debris to fall on homes and businesses near the refinery. Torrance firefighters quickly put out the fire, but the explosion caused severe injuries to six crew members. The explosion also prompted a criminal investigation.
In 1975, a 75,000-barrel oil storage tank ignited and burned at the Gulf refinery. The fire began on August 17, just before dawn. Several thousand people were evacuated within a four-mile radius of the refinery. The fire caused a second explosion a few hours later. The Gulf refinery complex was nearly destroyed.
The explosion at the Silver Eagle refinery in Pennsylvania knocked out a 46,000-volt transmission line essential to refineries. A four-person investigation team will be dispatched to the scene to determine the cause of the fire. The company has offered to put families up in local hotels.
BP refinery explosion
The Gulf of Mexico refinery disaster shook the US industry and caused a deadly oil spill, killing 15 people and severely injuring over 170. In the aftermath, BP apologized and took responsibility for the accident. It settled over 1,000 lawsuits from hired chemical plant refinery explosion attorneys. and spent over $1 billion on related legal fees. It also paid a $21 million fine for violating federal safety regulations.
A fire started on August 17, 1975, when a 75,000-barrel oil storage tank overfilled. The vapors gathered near a boiler house, where they ignited and triggered another massive explosion. The Gulf refinery complex was almost destroyed. A few hours later, a second fire broke out, almost destroying the entire complex.
BP’s accident investigation report stated that the heavy-than-air hydrocarbon vapors ignited when they came in contact with an ignition source. The overpressure protection system at the refinery subsequently failed, allowing the vapors to escape. The explosion also caused severe burn injuries to two workers. One victim sustained burns to more than 30% of his body.
The Texas City refinery explosion was one of the worst refinery explosions in US history. The refinery’s SS Grandcamp was docked in Texas City when it exploded. The fire ignited more than two-thousand tons of ammonium nitrate, resulting in multiple fires and explosions.BP was blamed for the accident, which resulted in massive fines and the firing of 270 workers.
Imperial Sugar refinery explosion
The Imperial Refinery explosion turned a packing facility into a twisted mess of burning metal. Fortunately, most of the injured escaped without help, and the explosion did not affect nearly 150,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Despite the massive damage to the refinery’s fire suppression system, the fire was contained within seven hours. Tugs with pumps drafted water from the Savannah River to combat the fire. The Effingham County fire department organized the rotation of five 3,500-gallon tankers. They were in the air for seven hours.
After the explosion, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District passed rules for refineries to limit sulfur dioxide emissions and other hazardous air pollutants. It also requires the five refineries in the Bay Area to monitor their emissions. Its unique monitoring system is designed to help regulators assess whether the oil refinery is making residents sick.
The first of these events happened in Texas in March 2005. A BP refinery exploded, igniting a hydrocarbon vapor and destroying a building that housed its employees. In addition to the explosion, a fire destroyed two polyethylene production plants within a mile of the refinery and an administration building half a mile away. The explosion was equivalent to a 3.5 Richter scale earthquake. The fire was put out but later reignited. Although the crews could put out the fireball, more people were killed than injured.
The second accident in Plymouth LNG occurred two years later. The BP Group was investigated for negligence. The BP Group has since released a report. However, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission has yet to publish the report. The report will likely come out after Williams has finished the repair of Plymouth LNG.
Phillips 66 Borger refinery explosion
A combination of factors caused the worst refinery explosions in US history. The main culprit, a valve stem blowout, resulted in the release of hydrogen sulfide into the atmosphere, igniting the chemicals and the fire. The Isomax refinery shut down a significant portion of its operation and evacuated workers to a nearby shelter-in-place area. One worker was killed, and 46 people were injured in the fire.
The 2015 Chevron Refinery explosion was another tragic event in the United States. At the time of the explosion, approximately 60,000 people were evacuated from the surrounding area. The explosion was so large that it caused damage to many nearby buildings. At least one thousand people were hospitalized, and the company settled more than 1,000 lawsuits related to the disaster. The federal government also fined the company $21 million over safety violations.
1975 Gulf refinery explosion was caused by a massive hydrocarbon fire that erupted in a storage tank. The fire spread quickly, destroying the refinery’s employees’ accommodation. The refinery’s pipelines had not been cleaned for 14 years, and the refinery had a poor safety record.
Mobil refinery explosion
The 1989 fire and explosion at the Texaco refinery in Wilmington, Delaware, left a trail of destruction. While the blaze was contained, the explosion left 28 people injured. Six of them were seriously hurt. The explosion resulted from a high pipe carrying liquid petroleum gas bursting. The vapor quickly ignited and erupted, causing a massive fire. The flames consumed the surrounding buildings and rained metal debris and fine dust onto nearby homes and businesses. Firefighters contained the fire within three hours. The blast shook boats in the harbor.
Another refinery explosion that happened recently happened in Houston, Texas. The Gulf refinery was the scene of a fire involving a 75,000-barrel storage tank. Thousands of people were evacuated from the four-mile radius. The fire started in the tank and roared back to life several hours later. The Gulf refinery complex almost wholly destroyed itself in this incident.
While investigated by the Chemical Safety Board found that the company had failed to take steps to protect its workers. The chemical company received an Occupational Safety and Health Administration citation in 1992 for unsafe pressure-relief systems. But the company, which later merged with BP, convinced the agency to drop the citation and later implemented less stringent safety regulations.
In a separate incident, the explosion at the BP refinery in Texas killed fifteen people and injured over two hundred and seventy others. Nearby buildings and temporary housing were destroyed. The company was fined $21 million by the government for safety violations and paid over $1.6 billion in damages. If