Major accidents in oil and gas

Table of Content


We would like to express our gratitude to our Health, Safety and Environment lecturer, Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Azmuddin bin Abdullah for allowing us to learn more about safety in the workplace environment. All the thing that we have been lectured on will be a valuable asset for our own safety in the future while working in our own respective workplace. All the tips and advices given by him will be used to its full extent to make our project as perfect as possible. We also want to thanks our other lecturers that will be replacing Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Azmuddin bin Addullah in the future within the period of this semester to teach us more about Health, Safety and Environment. We also would appreciate their help in the future for they may give their help to us for this research. Since there will be a quite number of lecturer that will be teaching us regarding the subject, we would like to express our early gratitude to those that will be taking care of us in the future.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

Not to forget appreciation for our team member which consist of Tan Ming Ee, Yew Jia Ming, Shehab, Ilaman and Nizar. Thanks to the great teamwork provided by our member, the project runs along very smoothly that it gives us a pleasant experience of working in a team. The smoothness of the project are also due to their interest in learning more about Health, Safety and Environment, the gained knowledge through their research from the internet, article and journal make the content of our project much more informative. Lastly, we are not forgetting our own campus Universiti Teknologi Petronas which also play an important roles in this subject, thanks to the management of the university the students here are allowed to take this course to learn about health and safety which will surely be useful in the present and the future.


Major accidents in oil and gas, petrochemicals and pharmaceutical plants have occurred countless time during the period where fossil fuel replacing the coal engine until today. In year 2012, the oil and gas industry alone reported to have produced 97 victim with serious injuries with the death of two people. Nowadays industry’s placed safety as one of their top priorities to ensure the safety of the employees. So as the result of the industry point of view, we have taken a steps to thoroughly study a few cases of accidents that occur in oil and gas, petrochemical and pharmaceutical plants. The sources of these accident are taken from the internet article and journal, then with the sources we are to find the causes of the accident and relief measure taken by the company where the accident occurred. Usual causes of these accident are due to faulty equipment or equipment failure, delaying maintenance and company trying to cut cost by hiring untrained technician to do maintenance on their equipment.

According to our research, one of the relief measure taken by the oil and gas industry is that Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) has established a regulation where a penalty will be given if any company failed to train their plant operator properly. Following up with the aftereffect of the accident is such that the company reputation will fall, facing the legal action, losing their stockholders, employees having nonfatal or fatal injuries, pollution of the environment and so on. The lesson learnt from these research is that it is impossible to create a 100% accident-free workplace environment, but though the number of accidents that occur can be reduced to the lowest value by implementing safety precaution to prevent or avoid from triggering the accident.


According to Wikipedia, accident is defined as “an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance, often with lack of intention or necessity. It usually implies a generally negative outcome which may have been avoided or prevented had circumstances leading up to the accident been recognized, and acted upon, prior to its occurrence.” In today’s world, there are many different type of accident. Even the type of accident are needed to be categorized by their specific characteristic to accurately described what kind of accident that has or will occur. In regard of accident, the most important thing to consider is the safety of the employees which their skills and knowledge are not only hard to find but also it cost a lot of time and money to develop a person to be equipped with skills and knowledge needed by the company and also the equipment which may cost the company greatly if affected. If accident do occur, not only the company will loses face and faith of their stockholders, they will also be leaving a polluted environment for the future generation which is not good.

When accidents occur, there will surely be a cause for it to happen. Usual it happens due to human error such as overlooking or failure to supervise the equipment during the construction and also hiring unqualified worker to work on the equipment. From equipment failure perspective, usually it happened because the company keeps delaying the maintenance until the equipment can no longer keep intact or function properly. To prevent the accident from occurring again and again, most of safety related organization from their respective industries have established their regulation to ensure the safety of the company employees, the workplace and the environment surrounding. The safety act can be considered in three steps which is before the accident, during the accident and follow up of the accident.

These steps is vital for every company to follow because each industry have their own working routine and should revised carefully to fit in the routine as perfect as possible to ensure all sides get benefited, not disaster. The most important thing is that safety of the worker, workplace and environment should be among the top priorities in every company in oil and gas, petrochemical and pharmaceutical plant. The cause and effect that occur from oil and gas, petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries should not be taken lightly as even the slightest mistake can create a disaster to their surroundings. The previous cases of accident from the industry should be taken as a reminder for them and also as a guide on how to prevent such thing from happening again in the future.

Case study 1
Example 1
The gas field accident in Urta-Bulak.
Urta-Bulak is a gas field in Uzbekistan. Active development of the field was carried out in the Soviet years. In December 1, 1963 there was a failure on gas field, which leaded to the release of natural gas. The drill bit went into the formation of abnormal high pressure with reservoir pressure of 300
atmospheres and a high content of hydrogen sulfide.


The torch was burning for three years (1064 days), the flow of the gas reached a height of 70 meters, the volume of combustible gas amounted to 12 million m3 per day. Because of the heat it was impossible to approach to the torch closer than 250-300 meters. The area around was covered with soot, in the vicinity of the well, the behavior of animals has changed due to emission of harmful gases. To protect environment from the heat of the torch, with the help of bulldozers sand parapet was poured around the reservoir. Engineers used different methods at the time, including the use of artillery, but they could not put out the fire. Causes

With further drilling process an error occurred: there was not used special drilling equipment made of steel, which is resisting aggressive environments. The drill string was pushed out of the well and a strong flow of gas ignited. Under the pressure of the gas, drilling rig collapsed and partially melted. Within a short time it’s destroyed the protective valves at the well head and the torch has increased.

Relief Measures

In the spring of 1966 the underground detonation of a thermonuclear charge was proposed to overcome problem with fire fountain. The idea was approved by the government and instructed to carry out the operation to KB- 11, because they already had experience in the development of industrial -charge for project “Chagan “. The overall supervision of the work involved a specialist in oil and gas fields Mr. Mangushev. His candidacy was proposed including by reason of the fact that he took an active part in the successful experiment to undermine the nuclear charge. Initially, the work was brought to the highest level of management of nuclear project – the Central Committee of the Communist Party set the task to Academician, President of Russian Academy of Sciences, MV Keldysh. As the project consultants were involved physicist Academician M. Millionshchikov and director of the Institute of Physics of the Earth academician MA Sadovsky . After a thorough discussion of the consultants, it was confirmed that undermine the nuclear charge, which will overlap the wellbore, is the only viable option to solve this problem.

Due to the fact that the explosion has lead to catastrophic consequences, the emergency work was carried out as quickly as possible. As faster the torch will be extinguished, as smaller amount of gas will be lost as a result of burnout. These missions were held in extreme conditions, when the temperature reached 40-50 ° C in the shade. The tests of the drilling equipment were conducted at the site in the Moscow region. As a result of these tests the shaft angle, depth of the charge and the structural features of the device were identified. The charge itself was created in the KB-11 under the guidance of experienced nuclear physicists Vladimir S. Lebedev and VA Razuvaeva . Feature of the design was the “purity” of the nuclear charge, which meant the products of the explosion had to have a minimum half-life. Lesson Learnt

From this incident we should take note that we have to always take maximum precautions in order to escape such accidents in our working environment. Occasionally the things that we have counted as insignificant would bring us the major defects, which later on will result in tragic outcomes. The safety must always be in the first place, since an error like this will cost very high for the company, which is not only financially, but also morally, where it will have severe impact on company’s reputation, labor and its future. Management has to provide the safest environment for workers as much as possible and it must provide all necessary equipments such as blow out preventers or safety valves, which are basic examples of tools that every field should certainly have. Example 2

Production pipeline accident near Ufa (Bashkiria)
Fatal train crash near Ufa – the largest in the history of Russia and the USSR, railway accident that occurred on June 4 in 1989 Iglinskiy area Bashkiria, 11 km from the town of Asha (Chelyabinsk region) in the stretch of Asha – Ulu Telyak . At the time of the passage of two oncoming passenger trains, number 211 “Novosibirsk – Adler ” and the number 212 , ” Adler – Novosibirsk”, huge explosion of light hydrocarbons occurred, as a result of the accident 575 people were killed (according to other sources 645), 181 of them – children and more than 600 were injured.

On the production pipeline “Western Siberia – Ural – Volga region “, which transported the wide fraction of light hydrocarbons (liquefied Gas & blend), formed a narrow gap of 1.7 m long. The gas started leaking and weather conditions made whole gas accumulated in the valley, unfortunately Ulu Telyak – Asha Kuibyshev Railway was crossing through that valley and 900 m from the trans-Siberian pipeline laid a highway, which also was severely affected by the explosion. About three hours before the disaster, devices showed a pressure drop in the pipeline. However, instead of looking for the leak, duty personnel increased the supply of gas for pressure restoration. As a result of these actions through almost two-meter crack in the pipe a significant amount of propane, butane and other flammable hydrocarbons have leaked, which was accumulated in the valley in the form of a “gas lake.” Ignition of the gas mixture could occur from a random spark or a cigarette thrown out of the window of a passing train. Train drivers passing nearby warned the train dispatcher, that there are strong fumes near that area, but that was not given value. June 4th, 1989 at the time of the meeting of two passenger trains thundered a powerful gas explosion and a huge fire broke out. The trains number 211 “Novosibirsk – Adler ” ( 20 wagons , locomotive VL10 -901 ) and the number 212 , ” Adler – Novosibirsk” (18 wagons , locomotive CS2 -689 ) were carrying 1284 passengers (including 383 children ) and 86 members of train and locomotive crews . The shock wave from the track has cleared 11 cars, 7 of them burned completely. The remaining 27 cars were burned on the outside or burned inside. According to official data, 575 people were killed, where 181 of them were children (according to other sources – 645), 623 were disabled, received severe burns and injuries.

The official version says that the leakage of gas from the production pipeline is possibly because of the damage inflicted by the excavator bucket during its construction in October 1985, four years before the crash. Leakage started 40 minutes before the explosion. In another version of the cause of the accident it says that there was corrosion on the outside of the tube due to electrical leakage of currents, which was produced by railroad. Condensate liquid infiltrated the soil to a depth of the trench, without
going outside, and gradually descended down the slope to the railway. At the meeting of the two trains, possibly as a result of inhibition, there was a spark that caused the detonation of gas. But the most likely cause of the detonation of the gas was random spark from the pantograph of a locomotive. There is a conspiracy theory that the crash is supposedly one of the many man-made disasters done by U.S. intelligence, which has been tasked to destabilize the Soviet Union. The root of these conspiracies is linked to book by Thomas Reid – a former commander in chief of the U.S. Air Force, which was part of the Reagan of the U.S. National Security Council. In the book it is stated that CIA had an operation to blow up a gas pipeline in the Soviet Union in 1982, however book doesn’t contain any information about Ufa production pipeline explosion.

Relief Measures
Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry Ufa explosion was appointed Deputy Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers Mr. Vedernikov. The investigation of the case lasted 6 years, as a result nine officers were charged to be jailed, where only two of them were subjected to amnesty. The charges were presented under Article 215, Part II of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The maximum penalty was five years in prison. Association was created for victims and relatives of those who were injured by Asha. In 1992, on the site of the tragedy was erected eight-meter memorial. In 2004, on the instructions of OAO “Gazprom” has been developed and passed the departmental test control system for transitions of pipelines across the roads, which was designed to monitor the safety performance of transitions. Lesson Learnt

*Negligence to work
Negligence is one of the main characters which lead us to many failures during completion of our tasks. That’s why we should be very provident, when we deal with hazardous materials. *Placement
The placement must be always taken into account; improper placement of dangerous equipments may result in severe damages to environment. *Seeking for the reason behind
If we notice something strange during our work, we must always inform senior
management about it and try to understand the root of problem.

Case Study 2
Example 1:
West Pharmaceutical Services explosion
Accident Background
The West Pharmaceutical Plant explosion occurred on January 29, 2003 at the West Pharmaceutical Plant in Kinston, North Carolina, United States. 6 people were killed and 36 people were injured in this accident when a large explosion ripped through the facility. According to report, two firefighters were injured in the subsequent blaze. Consequences of this accident

The plant was ripped apart by this violent explosion. The shock wave broke windows at distances up to 1,000 feet (330m) away, and propelled debris as far as two miles (3km) away, some of which started addition fires in wooded areas at this distance. Besides, the blast could be felt 25 miles away and witnesses reported hearing “a sound like rolling thunder”, as what was later determined to be a chain reaction of explosions rapidly propagated. A large fire raged for two days at the plant site and the damage was estimated to be in the region of $150 millions. One half of the 150,000 square-foot (13,935m2) plant was completely destroyed. Causes

The investigation initially focused on two different possibilities: a failure of a newly installed gas line, and a large rubber dust explosion. From an early stage, the theory pursued was that of the dust explosion. However, less than 24 hours of the explosion, the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, who conducted the investigation, had determined from eyewitness interviews that the explosion originated in an area known as the Automated Compounding System. It was a synthetic rubber-processing system and was the site for mixing, rolling, coating, and drying of a type of rubber called polyisoprene. The process was aimed to add oils and fillers to the material, as well as creating significant quantities of dust. Therefore, the working theory from an early point was the rubber dust explosion theory. From the investigation, the particular machine was identified. It coated strips of rubber by dipping in “Acumist”, a finely powdered grade of
combustible polyethylene. This machine had operated for 24 hours a day, five or six days a week, since 1987. The space around the machine, including a suspended ceiling three feet (0.9 m) above the machine, were regularly cleaned by the factory’s maintenance personnel, but, they were unaware that ventilation systems within the room pulled the dust up into the ceiling, where an accumulation 0.25 to 0.5 inches (6.3 to 12 mm) thick had gathered. Due to this thick layer of dust and poor ventilation, theory was proved as a dust explosion is the fast combustion of dust particles suspended in the air in an enclosed location. Several weeks prior to the accident, maintenance personnel did notice a thick layer of dust coating surfaces above the suspended ceiling, but failed to realize the imminent danger posed. The investigation determined that the explosion occurred when something disturbed the dust, creating a cloud, which ignited. The investigation was unable to determine what ignited the dust, due to the extremity of the damage at the plant. However, it is known that the machine suffered multiple internal fires, including one that was powerful enough to blow off the mixer door. Four other theories were developed regarding possible causes: a batch of rubber that overheated and ignited; an electrical ballast or light fixture that ignited accumulated dust; a spark caused by a possible electrical fault; or ignition of dust in a cooling air duct feeding an electric motor. In addition, it was determined that West had in their possession material safety data sheets (MSDSs) supplied by the powder manufacturer that warned of the danger of such explosions, but West did not refer to them. Instead, they relied on the MSDS supplied by Crystal Inc. PMC, who supplied West with a polyethylene-water slurry. However, this neglected to mention the hazard posed by dust as it was not thought to be hazardous once the slurry had dried. The final report into the disaster was highly critical of West, saying that the four “root causes” of the disaster were West’s inadequate engineering assessment for combustible powders, inadequate consultation with fire safety standards, lack of appropriate review of MSDSs, and inadequate communication of dust hazards to workers. It also criticized West for not investigating a minor incident in which dust ignited during welding, by which West could have realized the imminent danger posed by the dust. Other than that, in October 2002, an inspector found a total of 22 “serious violation” at the plant, but said that these
were routine findings for numerous industrial premises in North Carolina. Although in this case, it was not the cause of this accident, but West Pharmaceutical Services was fined $10,000 as a result. Relief Measures

Some recommendations were made in the final report to prevent a recurrence. A brief summary of each one is provided below: (i) North Carolina’s Building Code Council should adopt NFPA 654, a set of building codes which controls operations in environments involving large quantities of combustible dust. In particular, it only limits combustible dust accumulations up to 1.32 of an inch. (ii) North Carolina’s Department of Labor should identify industries at risk of future explosions, and educate people involved with these industries about the potential risk of dust explosion. (iii)North Carolina fire and building code officials should be trained to recognize the hazards posed by flammable dust. (iv) West Pharmaceutical should improve its material safety review procedures, revise its project engineering practices, communicate with its workers about the combustible dust hazards, and follow safety practices contained in NFPA 654 at all company facilities that use combustible powders (v) Crystal inc. PMC should modify their MSDSs to discuss the hazards posed by potential dust explosions. However, the most important measure was that the accident prompted the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) to conduct a study into the number and severity of dust explosion throughout the United States over several decades. Lessons Learnt

From this incident, we learnt that the main cause of occurrence of this kind of explosion was the carelessness, disobedience and ignorance by human. In other word, the act of negligence on the part of the workers and also the company. They did not realize the seriousness of minor errors in normal operations until things started to happen, as their main attention was to focus on profits. In this case, the West did not obey all the appropriate procedures for optimal operation and production of the company. The inadequate assessment of the combustible powder and appropriate view of MSDS are the main causes of this accident while the miss-communication between the West and its worker about the dust hazard also contribute to the accident. Example 2

Phillips Explosion of 2000
Accident Background
An explosion and fire responsible for 1 death and 71 injuries occurred at Phillips Petroleum’s Houston Chemical Complex at 1400 Jefferson Road, Pasadena, Texas 77506 at approximately 1.22 pm CT on March 27, 2000. This plant employs 850 workers who make high quality plastic resins for use in medical and consumer products. The explosion occurred at the K-Resin facility and involved a type of plastic made with butadiene. At the time of explosion, the tank was out of service for cleaning purpose and had no pressure or temperature gauges that would have provided the workers with an alert to the approaching crisis. According to Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman, this tragedy is not an isolated incident, but one in a series of incidents at this site. He continued that 3 workers lost their lives in explosion at this plant in less than a year’s time, and 23 others were killed in a major explosion in 1989. Consequences

This explosion resulted in one fatality, while 32 Phillips Petroleum employees and 39 subcontractors were taken to local hospitals for sustaining burns, smoke inhalation, and cuts from debris. It took search crews for 5 hours to locate the body of a missing employee in the rubble. The dead man was Robert Gott, a 45-years old supervisor, who barely survived the Phillips Disaster of 1989. In this incident, the fire produced huge plumes of black smoke that spread over the heavily-industrialized Houston Ship Channel and neighboring residential areas. Causes

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s six-month investigation concluded that failure to train workers properly was a key factor in the explosion and fire. The agency proposed that Phillips Petroleum be fined $2.5 million in penalties for 50 alleged violations of safety standards at the facility. OSHA determined that the March explosion took place when a runaway chemical reaction occurred in a tank containing an unknown quantity of butadiene that burst the 12,000-gallon vessel. The fire resulted from this explosion created damage to other nearby chemical tanks. The butadiene tank was out of service for cleaning and had no pressure or temperature
gauges that could have warned workers in the control room to the impending hazard. More importantly, workers had not been trained in a safety procedure for handling butadiene, and they were unaware of the potential for explosion. In addition, despite the vessel was not in use, butadiene on the other way continued to flow into the tank through a non-functioning valve that had not been properly locked out. Relief Measures

The agency has inspected this site 46 times, including four inspections in 1999. Three of the 1999 inspections were related to explosions. In June 1999, two workers died in an explosion in the same unit of the plant where the explosion occurred in March this year. Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and OSHA regulations. A serious violation is defined as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard. Repeat violations are those in which an employer has previously been cited within the last three years for the same, or a substantially similar, violation and which has become a final order and not under contest. As a result of the inspection, OSHA has alleged 30 willful instance-by-instance violations for failure to train plant operators with a total proposed penalty of $2.1 million ($70,000 per instance); four alleged willful violations of process safety management and lockout/tagout standards with a proposed penalty of $280,000; two alleged repeat violations of the process safety management standard for a proposed penalty of $70,000; 13 alleged serious violations with proposed penalties of $66,000; one other-than-serious violation with a proposed penalty of $1,000 for a total of 50 alleged violations with proposed penalties of $2,517,000. According to OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress, they have cited similar violations repeatedly at this plant, yet tragedies continue to occur. Therefore, what is necessary is a full reassessment of worker safety and health in all areas of the plant, significantly improve training for employees and a firm commitment from plant and corporate management to make safety an ongoing high priority. Besides, as the plant is now under new ownership, OSHA chooses to look to the new owners to assure that the problems of the past do not continue. The
plant, a Phillips Petroleum Company site doing business as Phillips Chemical Company, has been succeeded by Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, LP. The new entity has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Lessons Learnt

Looking at a big picture, we learnt that the failure of company to provide proper trainings to their workers would have caused a high potential of occurrence of accidents. In this case, lacking of knowledge in handling butadiene and on-the-job supervision were the main contribution to the explosion of Phillips Petroleum’s Houston Chemical Complex. In addition, we can conclude that the absence of Safety Culture in the Company’s Management and any clear safe working procedures contribute to the occurrence of this tragedy. However, when we enlarge our scale, we knew that Gott was one of the victims of this untoward incident, but actually he was sacrificed in the process of saving others. At that time Gott was in a building whose roof collapsed but he remained in the blazing plant to save a woman and attend to the injured. Thus, in this incident, we learnt that during the incident, self safety is important, but so do others, and when we are those with more experiences, we should have the responsibility in helping the fresh when they are in need of helps. With respect to this, Gott was a victim in Phillips explosion in 1989 also, so he learns to be claim during incident happening, and turns to helps the needy. Example 3

2005 Jilin Chemical Plant Explosion
Accident Background
A series of explosions occurred in the Jilin chemical plant on November 13, 2005, in the No. 101 Petrochemical Plant in Jilin City, Jilin Province, China. The particular explosion occurred over the period of an hour. The explosion killed six, injured dozens, and caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents. The blast created an 80 km long toxic slick in the Songhua River, a tributary of the Amur. The slick, predominantly made up of benzene and nitrobenzene, passed through the Amur River over subsequent weeks. Consequences

The blasts were so powerful that they shattered windows at least 100 to 200 meters away from the scene of the explosions. At least 70 people have been injured and six were killed. The fires were finally put out early in the morning of November 14. Over 10,000 people were evacuated from the area, including local residents and students at the north campus of Beihua University and Jilin Institute of Chemical Technology, fearing of further explosions and contamination with harmful chemicals. The explosion severely polluted the Songhua River, with an estimated 100 tons of pollutants containing benzene and nitrobenzene entering into the river. An 80km long toxic slick drifted down the Amur River, and the benzene level recorded was at one point 108 times above national safety level. The slick passed first on the Songhua River, then to Songyuan. It then entered the province of Heilongjiang, with Harbin, one of China’s largest cities, being one of the first places to be affected. After that, the slick converged into the Amur River at the mouth of Songhua on the border between of China and Russia. Water plant in Jilin was closed on November 13 while water supplies were being shutdown in Harbin on November 22 for four days for maintenance, later being postponed to November 24. However, rumors ran wild about the possible causes of the shutoff. In the afternoon of the same day, schools in Harbin were closed for one week. On that day, the nitrobenzene level at Harbin was recorded at 16.87 times above national safety level, while the benzene level was increasing, but had not yet exceeded national safety level. However, the nitrobenzene level doubled on November 25 (0.5805 mg/L), 33.15 times the national safety level, but began to decrease. The benzene level stayed under national safety level after that. It is reported that the entry of several tributaries into the Songhua, such as the Hulan River and the Mudan River, diluted the slick. Water supply in Harbin was resumed in the evening of November 27. Causes

The cause of the blasts was initially determined two days after the blast as the accident site is a nitration unit for aniline equipment. T-102 tower jammed up and was not handled properly, hence the blasts. The company gave no further explanation, according to Zou Haifeng, vice-general manager of Jilin Petrochemical Company of CNPC. Relief Measures

The CNPC, which owns the company in charge of the factory, Jilin Petrochemical Corporation, has asked senior officials to investigate the cause of the incidents. The explosions are not thought to be related to terrorism, and the company told a press conference that they had occurred as a result of a chemical blockage that had gone unfixed, but the announcement was a day later after the incident. In response to the crisis, trucks transported tens of thousands of metric tons of water from surrounding cities, and thousands of tons of activated carbon from all over the country to Harbin. On November 23, Harbin residents began to receive water from fire trucks, and began voluntary evacuation. On the other hand, the municipal government asked hotels and restaurants in the city to provide rooms for the evacuated people. Taxi companies also aided in the evacuation. The government of Harbin also ordered the price of drinking water to be frozen at the level of November 20, in order to combat overpricing. In addition, Harbin is boring ninety-five more deep-water wells, to complement the existing 918 deep-water wells in the city. Fifteen hospitals were on stand-by for possible poisoning victims. Premier Wen Jiabao of the State Council visited Harbin on November 26 to inspect the current situation, including the status of water pollution and water supply. At the international level, the slick reached the Amur River at December 16, and arrived at the Russian city of Khabarovsk four to five days later. In readiness, a communications hotline had been set up between Chinese and Russian agencies, and China offered water testing and purifying materials, including 1,000 tons of activated carbon to Russia. Khabarovsk planned to shut off its water supply in “extreme circumstances”, prompting residents to stock up on water. While politically, Xie Zhenhua, China’s Minister of State Environmental Protection Administration, resigned and was succeeded by Zhou Shengxian, former director of the State Forestry Administration. Lessons Learnt

From this incident, company should be transparent on the subject matter, and revealed the truth of the incident. The particular company should take accountability of the consequences if the real reasons are not being disclosed. In this case, Jilin Petrochemicals, which runs the plant that suffered the explosions, initially denied that the explosion could have
leaked any pollutants into the Songhua River, saying that it produced only water and carbon dioxide. The media has focused mostly on Harbin, with almost no information on the slick’s effect on cities and counties in Jilin province. The polluted river would have cause diseases or illnesses if continually being consumed by the residents. According to scientific report, high level exposure to benzene will reduce white blood cell count and linked to leukemia. Heilongjiang only responded to the crisis a full week after the explosions occurred and gave a day’s notice for their initial announcement attributed the impending shutoff to “maintenance”. It was the second announcement on the next day that clarified the reason for the shutoff and postponed the shutoff. Therefore, we learnt that openness is important for the citizens to realize the seriousness of the incident. Besides, government should severely punish anyone who had covered up the severity of the accident. Thus, from here, we know that the source inspection and measures were inadequate.

However, the most important in this incident is the proper maintenance to prevent any manufacturing defects and to be worse, causing explosion. Jilin chemical plant did not reveal much of the information about the causes of this accident; however, maintenance should be done more often and precise as we cannot overlook the impact of a small minor mistake. Example 4

Flixborough Disaster
June 1, 1974
Flixborough UK
Cyclohexanone oxidation plant
Temporary bypass pipe for reactor and process pipe between seperators Number of Death
Number of Injuries
Overview of Incident

The chemical plant owned by Nypro(UK) and in operation since 1967. It produced caprolactum which is used in the manufacture of nylon. Two months before the explosion, a crack was found in the number 5 reactor. Thus, they installed a temporary 50cm(20 inches) diameter pipe to allow continue operation of the plant while repairs were made. On the day of explosion, the temporary pipe ruptured because of the fire on a nearby pipe. Within a minute, the store of cyclohexane leaked from the pipe and a vapour cloud about 100-200m diameter is formed. The cloud exploded when in contact with an ignition source. The explosion completely destroying the plant and around 1800 buildings within a mile radius of the site were damaged. There were 9 other site workers and all 18 employees in the nearby control room were killed by the fuel-air explosion. Another explosion happened on a weekday and it killed more than 500 plant employees. Resulting fires raged in the area for over 10 days. It was Britain’s biggest peacetime explosion until the 2005 Buncefield fire. Causes

Type of error
Systemic cause
Failure of the 50cm bypass pipe causing a massive release of cyclohexane vapour to the atmosphere Operator error
Design error
The bypass pipe required an “S” shape because the reactor were mounted on a sort of staircase. The temporary pipe was installed without examining what the effect of a slight pressure rise on the bellow would be.

Failure by local management to understand the hazards of the cyclohexane process Management error
The workers who designed the temporary pipe were not the professional engineers. The only calculations made were of the capacity of the assembly needed to carry the required flow. They didn’t refer to the British Standard
or any accepted standard, didn’t calculate the forces that would be exerted on the pipe.

No qualified mechanical engineer on-site
Management error

The local community protests the re-built of the plant.

Collapse in the price of nylon.

The site was demolished in 1981 although the administration block still remains. It becomes the home to the Flixborough Industrial Estate which is occupied by various business and Glanford Power Station.

The foundation of the properties severely damaged by the blast but the land between the estate and the village still remains, known as Stather Road. It is a memory to those who involved in the incident.

Relief Measures
Robert Baird Young is a man who risked his life to save others in the disaster. Mr Young was born in Airdrie, Scotland. He was a man of many talents and tries his hand to several professions. On the day of explosion he was delivering chemicals to the plant and spent three days helping clear the devastation. Disaster fund for Flixborough Disaster was £50000 approximately. It showed the public response to the Flixborough Disaster. The government in UK set up an Advisory Committee on Major Hazards to consider the wider implications of the Flixborough Disaster. It spent about 10 years for their recommendations to be made and come into force. Lesson Learnt

Integrity of the plant
The first step of countermeasure is re-built the plant according to the lessons learned from the disaster. The improvement of the production process was considered. There are few safety considerations like carry out systematic search for possible cause of the problem, carry out HAZOP analysis, construct modifications to same standards of the plant by referring to original plant, use blast-resistant control rooms and building. Management operation

The management has to take serious matter when the important post is vacant. Also, the training of engineers should be more broadly based and all the engineers should learn at least the elements of other branches of engineering than their own in both their academic and practical training. Nitrate stress corrosion

The cracked bypass pipe led to disaster. Examination of the crack showed that the crack had been caused by nitrate stress corrosion. However this phenomenon had been ignored by the management at that time. Hence the attention of industry should be drawn to the risk.

Example 5
December 2, 1984
Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) Pesticide plant
Gas leak
Number of Death
8000 (died within two weeks)
Number of Injuries
3900 (severely and permanently disabling injuries)
Bhopal Disaster

It is known as Bhopal gas tragedy. It was a gas leak(leak of methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals from the plant) incident in India and considered as the world’s worst industrial disaster. The plant reduced the production capacity to one quarter due to decreased demand for pesticides. As the debt increasing and the capital for farmers to invest in pesticides were decreasing as well, UCIL plant to dismantle key production units of facility for shipment while waiting for ready buyer. At 11pm on December 2, 1984, an operator noticed a small leak of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and the pressure inside a storage tank keep on increasing. Also a faulty valve allowed 1 ton of water to mix with 40 tons of MIC. The leakage of gas had spread to the atmosphere and more than 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals. It reached a settlement with the Indian Government through mediation of the country’s Supreme Court and accepted moral responsibility. It paid $470 million in compensation. Causes

Maintenance of facilities ignored
In 1976, two trade unions complained of the pollution within the plant. A worker dead as inhaling a large amount of phosgene gas. However UCIC didn’t undertake the constructive actions. In January 1982, 24 workers who exposed to phosgene leak were found that none of them have been ordered to wear protective masks. In 1982, more than two cases of MIC leak and it affected about 18 workers and 1 MIC supervisor. All of these earlier leaks were ignored by the relevant department. Normally the scrubbers would intercept escaping gas, but these were temporarily out of order for repair on the day of incident.

Safety system shut off to save cost
There were few factors that led to the disaster such as storing MIC in large tanks and filling beyond recommended levels, poor maintenance after the plant ceased MIC production, failure of several safety systems due to poor maintenance. In the investigation report, UCC admitted most of the safety
systems were not functioning on the night of 3 December 1984.

Plant located near densely populated area
The population in the area is 520,000.
Lack of skilled operators
Inadequate emergency action plan/ Lack of some safety procedures There is no valve to prevent the water from entering the storage tanks. The cooling installation that might have flared the gas that was released out of order. 6.

Failure to recognize previous plant issues

Immediate Effects
Around 2000 animals were killed. The Indian government prohibited fishing activities within the area. The food supply in Bhopal became scarce due to suppliers’ fear of food safety since the crop growth was also affected. Total 36 wards which contained a population of 520,000 people in the region.

Long term Effects
The accountability and money used for the leak (for cleaning up the environment) have become a problem. Also some of the survivors suffered from various health problems. The employees lost their job and the pedestrians lost their home as well. It was estimated that 50,000 persons need alternative jobs and less than 100 gas victims had found regular employment under government’s scheme.

Water Contamination
Bhopal’s underground water supply is polluted with toxic chemicals such as heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants.

Relief Measures
Health care
Large number of private practitioners opened in Bhopal due to the leak. Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre(BMHRC) gave free care for survivors for 8 years. Environmental rehabilitation
Government of Madhya Pradesh presented a scheme for improvement of water supply. Around US$3.8million was paid to dispose of UCIL chemical plants waste in Germany. Union and Madhya Pradesh Government was directed to take immediate steps for disposal of toxic waste within six months. Occupational and habitation rehabilitation

Numbers of work-sheds were built. In 1986, MP government invested in the Special Industrial Area Bhopal. The government planned 2486 flats in two- and four- story buildings outside Bhopal. Economic rehabilitation

Madhya government’s finance department allocated US$13 million for victim relief. The government also provided widow pension and subsidy for the family with monthly income less than US$7.7. It caused more children were able to attend school, more money was spent on treatment and food. The final compensation for personal, injury was around US380 for the majority and for the death claims, the average sum paid out was US$950. Lesson learnt

Through the Bhopal Disaster, India has experienced rapid industrialization. There are some positive changes in government policy and behavior of industries. The Disaster made the developing countries more concern on safety regulations that could have huge impacts on environment and human being. Bhopal has been in a chronic crisis since the accident. Only the parameters of the crisis have changed with time. At the time of the incident, medical and ecological damages were most important. The economic and social damages are being focused for now. The city experienced a steady transformation of social and cultural attitudes towards the disaster. For people not affected by it, the disaster became a nuisance. It was a source of political conflicts and economic decline of the city. This segment of Bhopal viewed gas victims as a burden on the city’s limited resources. They preferred to forget about the accident and get on with their lives. Reference 2005 Jilin chemical plant explosions. Retrieved from Wu Yang and He Na. (15 November 2005). Cause of Jilin Chemical plant blasts found. China Daily. Retrieved from Investigation of explosion that killed one worker, injured 69. Occupational Safety & Health Administration. United States Department of Labor. (Sept 21, 2000). Retreived from

Phillips Petroleum Company. Retrieved from
Phillips explosion of 2000. Retrieved from West Pharmaceutical Services explosion. Retrieved from Dust explosion. Retrieved from

Cite this page

Major accidents in oil and gas. (2016, Nov 06). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront