Tesoro Refinery Fire at Salt Lake City-CSB to investigate

Industrial Accidents

There has been a fire at the Tesoro refinery in Salt Lake City, Utah that looks eerily similar to the infamous Texas BP fire. Despite so many incidents, apparently, safety is not being given the top priority it once was, by company managements. Or such incidents happening due to the bean counters in the higher ups in these companies? (Because these penny wise pound foolish guys seem to have virtually decimated the large engineering and operations groups that used to be present in many large companies). Today, under the guise of “cost cutting” and “operational efficiencies”, most large engineering teams have been given the heave ho. The results are there for all to see. Anybody who has worked in the 70s, 80s or even early 90s will understand what I am talking about…..

The below news is from the CSB’s website at http://www.chemsafety.gov

Washington, DC, October 22, 2009 – A three-person investigative team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) will be examining a fire that occurred Wednesday evening at the Tesoro refinery in Salt Lake City, Utah, following a power outage earlier in the day.

According to refinery officials, liquid hydrocarbons were released from a flare stack during an effort to restart the refinery’s crude unit. The hydrocarbons were ignited in a pool fire that extended from the base of the stack and damaged a trailer and other equipment that were positioned nearby.
CSB Investigator Cheryl MacKenzie will lead the three-person team from the CSB’s Western Regional Office in Denver, Colorado. The team is expected to arrive at the site today.

CSB Chairman Bresland said the CSB inquiry would seek to determine if there are any similarities to the 2005 accident at the BP Texas City refinery, which occurred when flammable liquid erupted from a blowdown stack during a unit startup, leading to a massive vapor cloud explosion that killed 15 workers in nearby trailers and injured 180 others. The CSB recommended numerous changes to regulations, enforcement, and industry safety practices following that accident.

“Nearly four years after the disaster in Texas City, there continues to be a disturbing number of fires, explosions, and releases at the nation’s refineries. These events endanger workers and the public and can disrupt the supply of needed transportation fuels,” said Chairman John Bresland. “A sudden release of flammable liquid from a flare or blowdown stack poses a potential risk to people, equipment, and the environment and warrants a close look.”

No injuries were reported in the fire at Tesoro, but smoke and flames were visible over a wide area in Salt Lake City, and an interstate highway and a commuter rail line were closed temporarily. Refinery and municipal firefighters extinguished the blaze within an hour.

The CSB continues to investigate the serious flash fire that occurred in January 2009 at the Silver Eagle refinery in nearby Woods Cross, Utah, with a final report expected early in 2010.