US investigators hope soon to enter the site of a massive fuel fire and chemical spill outside Houston to begin the hunt for a cause and to determine whether the operator followed safety regulations.
The blaze, at Mitsui and Company’s Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) storage facility in Deer Park, Texas, began 17 March and released toxic chemicals into the air and nearby waterways. Shipping along the largest oil port in the United States remained disrupted on 1 April, as did operations at two nearby refineries.
Fumes from benzene-containing fuel and fear of another fire have prevented investigators from going into the tank farm’s “hot zone,” officials said. Three tanks holding oils remaind to be emptied , and responders continued to sop up fuels on the tank farm grounds.
Investigators from the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) and Environmental Protection Agency, as well as state and local authorities, plan to enter the site once it is safe.
Access to the site, along the Houston Ship Channel, will help determine what happened and how a fire at one tank holding tens of thousands of barrels of naphtha spread quickly to 10 other giant tanks.
“The escalation of the event, looking at how the fire spread from a single tank to others in the tank battery, is certainly something we’re interested in,” said CSB lead investigator Mark Wingard.
Before CSB investigators enter the site, possibly by 5 April, they will focus on interviewing ITC personnel and witnesses of the fire, and collecting documentation on the facility and its tanks. The CSB’s investigation will also examine the “outside impacts” of the fires, Wingard said.
“There’s huge public interest in this case,” he said. “People in this community want to know what happened and what they were exposed to.”
Read the full story here.
Don't miss our latest HSE content, delivered to your inbox twice monthly. Sign up for the HSE Now newsletter. If you are not logged in, you will receive a confirmation email that you will need to click on to confirm you want to receive the newsletter.
1 Nov 2019
- Bali, Indonesia
Registration Coming Soon
23 May 2019
- Moscow, Russia
Reserve your place today
26 - 27 Jun 2019
- Paris, France
Let's get digital with insights and inspiration on how technology can optimise results
Exchange state-of-the-art knowledge in HSE and its applicability in the Russian environment.
23 May 2019 19:30 BST
- Live, then On Demand
HSE Now is a source for news and technical information affecting the health, safety, security, environment, and social responsibility discipline of the upstream oil and gas industry.
©2003-2019 Society of Petroleum Engineers, All Rights Reserved.