October 2022: US Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board Issues Report on Explosion at Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refinery

Background: Hydroflouric acid is used in petroleum refineries as a catalyst to react propylene or butylene or similar olefins to produce alkylate used to increase octane in gasoline.

Incident: On June 21, 2019, refinery personnel in the control room were moving propane stripper to storage tanks through the piping system when an elbow in the pipe system ruptured spewing large amounts of propane and causing a fire. The fire suppression system failed and personnel were unable to activate it manually due to the heat. 42-minutes later an explosion erupted throwing huge equipment components hundreds of yards away.

Investigation: Investigation determined an elbow in the piping system had been installed in 1973 using steel with a high nickel and copper content, which is known to be susceptible to corrosion in the presence of hydrofluoric acid. This elbow had never been inspected since installation. It was found to be a fraction of the minimum required thickness.

Cause: The incident elbow ruptured due to extensive corrosion that reduced the wall thickness to the point of failure.

Read the full final report by clicking here.

Girards Law Firm is available to help if you or a loved one has been injured in an industrial incident involving dangerous pipes or pipelines. Please call 214-346-9529 for a free consultation.

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