Don't compromise plant safety by ignoring leaks

Leaks provided adequate warning that something is very wrong.

By Dirk Willard

On August 6, 2012, firemen and a work crew were investigating a leak in the light-gas-oil side-cut line of the crude atmospheric tower at Chevron's Richmond, Calif., refinery. An operator suggested shutting down the unit for repairs but was over-ruled. Firemen were instructed to pinpoint the leak under the insulation, which they proceeded to do — with a fire hook. The firemen smashed a hole in the thinned pipe and then blasted the pipe with cold water to break loose the insulation. The pipe burst and 640°F oil spilled and ignited. This accident nearly incinerated a fireman and has cost Chevron $12 million so far.

Chevron had been replacing this corroded line and others connected to it but, obviously, not fast enough. Leaks were evident. During an inspection after the accident, Cal-OSHA found nine clamps to stop leaks.

Read the whole story on Chemical Processing

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