295147 Explosion and Fire At Caribbean Petroleum Tank Terminal in Bayam˛n, Puerto Rico

Tuesday, April 30, 2013: 2:00 PM
Presidio C (Grand Hyatt San Antonio)
Vidisha Parasram and Maria Mazzocchi, Incident Screening, US Chemical Safety Board, Washington, DC

On October 23, 2009, normal tank filling operation became catastrophic when a 5,000,000 gallon atmospheric tank overflowed for approximately 30 minutes at the Caribbean Petroleum terminal in Bayamòn, Puerto Rico. The developing vapor cloud enveloped part of the tank farm and reached the waste water treatment area where it ignited. A flash fire and explosion ensued and the contents of the tank burned for 2.5 days. Neighboring communities were evacuated and oil contaminated the nearby wetlands. This incident revealed a number of safety system deficiencies at the facility and gaps in the regulatory requirements and industry standards addressing overfill prevention and emergency response. This incident also raises questions regarding the adequacy of safety management systems in place at tank terminals and the need for automated overfill prevention alarms including high, high high level alarm and independent alarms to detect and shut down flow into a tank during filling operations. In addition, due to the close proximity of the community to the Caribbean Petroleum tank terminal, this incident further demonstrates the need for a risk assessment process that addresses high hazard facilities. This presentation will provide an overview of the US Chemical Safety Board’s Caribbean Petroleum investigation and discuss recommendations made by the CSB to prevent a similar incident.

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