Explosion at Sunoco refinery in Delaware-ethylene leak suspected cause

Industrial Accidents

It is Monday, May 18, 2009 and firefighters are still battling flames at Sunoco’s  refinery and petrochemical complex at Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. A suspected Ethylene leak caused a massive explosion and fire in a unit in the refinery and petrochemical complex on Sunday night. Luckily, no casualties have been reported.

Sunoco reportedly operates the Marcus Hook, 335,000-bpd Philadelphia and 145,000-bpd Eagle Point, New Jersey, refineries as a single facility. The news immediately led to a rally in gasoline prices in the area.

Further details about the incident were not immediately available but local TV stations reported hearing the explosions in communities surrounding the facility.

This incident is the latest of explosions, fires and other disasters being reported in chemical and petrochemical plants in the US. Has the operations, safety and engineering staff at these huge facilities been reduced (or downsized) by the bean counters to such a degree that a lot of muscle has been cut alongwith the fat? One never heard of so many incidents previously, so obviously this is happening and nobody in the industries seems to “get” the big picture, which is not pretty. It just shows us the decline in the operating standards over the last few years when the engineers and technicians got sidelined and the so called “MBA/Accountant/Bean Counter” types took positions of power, in US manufacturing. Youngsters quickly saw that the path to success, did not go through an engineering career and we are seeing the results, not only on Wall Street, but also on Main Street.

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