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CSB issues final report on Caribbean Petroleum explosion, makes recommendations

Caribbean Petroleum 2009

Photo: Chemical Safety Board

Washington – After months of delays, Chemical Safety Board members approved the agency’s final investigation report on a 2009 Caribbean Petroleum refinery explosion that injured three people and damaged about 300 homes near San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The blast occurred when gasoline overflowed and sprayed from the vents of a large aboveground storage tank. The excess gasoline created a 107-acre vapor cloud, which ignited. Investigators determined that measuring devices in the storage tanks were not maintained properly and often malfunctioned.

In response, CSB recommends that OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency require petroleum storage facilities to feature automatic overfill protection systems. CSB also is calling for such facilities to conduct routine inspections, testing and risk assessments.

“We found that the ‘float and tape’ measuring system was the only control system CAPECO used to avoid overfilling a tank,” CSB investigator Vidisha Parasram said. “When that system failed, the facility did not have additional layers of protection in place to prevent an incident.”

CSB members also approved an 11-minute safety video about the CAPECO explosion.