November 2014

Special Report: Plant Safety and Environment

An examination of three recent accidents in the downstream industry

With these accidents, has refining internationally fallen sub-standard in terms of safety? Such a question is likely best addressed by examining the existing HPI standard.

Jones, J. C., School of Engineering, University of Aberdeen

Three accidents in the hydrocarbon processing industry (HPI) in recent years—two in the US and one in Europe—are examined here. The accidents are analyzed according to the principles and ideas in the second edition of Hydrocarbon Process Safety.1 Geismar, Louisiana, 2013 An accident occurred at an olefins plant, causing two fatalities and 77 non-fatal injuries.2 The disparity between the number of fatal and non-fatal injuries suggests that a vapor cloud explosion (VCE) occurred (Fig. 1), rather than a flash fire. It is known3 that a VCE leads to widely different numbers of fatal and non-fatal injuries, whereas a flash fire leads to comparable numbers of fatal and non-fatal in

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