July 3, 2010 Jaipur, India- The Oil Tank farm here belonging to Indian Oil Corporation, a large Indian government owned oil company had a devastating fire about eight months ago. The reports were posted on this blog at that time.
The fire had resulted in 11 fatalities and destruction of oil worth millions., plus a lot of collateral damage was caused to an adjacent factory. The fire had raged on for several days and had was very difficult to control and extinguish.
Well, now the investigation into the accident is over and nine officers have been found guilty of gross negligence. The investigation speed was surprisingly fast (look at how the Bhopal case went on for decades before resulting in convictions) and nine officers of the company, including a General Manager, have been arrested on charges of gross negligence. Such arrests, will hopefully, instill enough respect for Industrial Safety in organisations that pay only lip service to the philosophy of safety.
As in most other cases of accidents, the result of the mishap occuring was the end result of a lot of events, not just the result of one event. Look at what facts were dug out and presented by the investigation team:
- Non working Public Address System
- Non implementation of Emergency Response Procedures-so the police control room was informed of the accident after ONE HOUR after the accident
- Apparent non working of any automation system that was supposedly installed at the facility to prevent overfilling
This means that if a plant or facility is well designed by competent engineers and also well maintained, then it will automatically ensure safety. However the operations of the systems that have been installed years ago need to be checked at least every year by third parties (as is the practice in many countries). For sure this being done for mechanical items like pressure vessels and safety relief valves, but is it being done for Instrumentation and Control Systems, or other systems like Public Address Systems? The sooner this is done seriously, we will have lesser chances of such accidents-be it the BP Deepwater Horizon spill or the Jaipur tank farm fire.