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Oil and gas | Chevron refinery fire

CSB cites corrosion as cause of 2009 refinery blast; calls for inherently safer design

April 16, 2014

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Washington – A corroded pipe that had not been inspected for years was the source of the hydrogen release and subsequent explosion at the Silver Eagle Refinery in 2009, according to a new analysis from the Chemical Safety Board.

The explosion at the refinery in Woods Cross, UT, damaged more than 100 homes. As part of its ongoing investigation, CSB hired an engineering firm to study pipe fragments and the history of the equipment. The results indicate similarities between the incident and a 2012 fire, still under CSB investigation, at a Chevron refinery in Richmond, CA. CSB states that, in both cases, sulfidation corrosion had caused the pipe walls to become thin, and records show the part of the piping that failed had never been inspected despite the risk being well-known.

Calling the findings “all too familiar,” CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso highlighted the lack of use of inherently safer design, which also was identified as an issue in the 2010 Tesoro refinery explosion in Anacortes, WA.