Accident: Valero Refinery Propane Fire
Location: Location: Sunray, TX
Accident Occured On: 02/16/2007 | Final Report Released On: 07/09/2008
Accident Type: Oil and Refining - Fire and Explosion
Investigation Status: The CSB's final report was issued at a news conference in Amarillo, Texas, on July 9, 2008.
On February 16, 2007, a propane fire erupted at the Valero McKee Refinery in Sunray, Texas, north of Amarillo. Three workers suffered serious burns, and the refinery was forced to shut down. The fire began following a leak in the propane deasphalting unit and spread quickly, in part because of the rapid collapse of a major pipe rack carrying flammable hydrocarbons. Some of the rack's support columns had not been fireproofed.
Issue API-recommended practices for freeze protection in oil refinery process units that include, as a minimum: -the establishment of a written program; -periodic inspections to identify freeze hazards in dead-legs or infrequently used piping and equipment where water could collect; -specific approaches to eliminate or protect against such freeze hazards; and -identification of infrequently used piping or equipment subject to freezing as a trigger for Management Of Change (MOC) reviews.
Revise API 2218, Fireproofing Practices in Petroleum and Petrochemical Processing Plants, so that conformance with the standard addresses jet fire scenarios, and requires more protective fireproofing radii and other measures (e.g., emergency isolation valves, depressuring systems) for pipe rack support steel near process units containing highly pressurized flammables.
Revise API Recommended Practice 2001, Fire Protection in Refineries, and API 2030, Application of Fixed Water Spray Systems for Fire Protection in the Petroleum Industry, so that conformance with these recommended practices includes the design, installation, and use of ROSOVs and interlocked equipment controls to enable the safe and rapid emergency isolation of process equipment containing highly pressurized flammables.
Revise API Standard 2510, Design and Construction of LPG Installations, and API Publication 2510A, Fire-Protection Considerations for the Design and Operation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Storage Facilities, to address effective deluge system activation during emergencies originating in nearby process units.
Work together to benchmark effective PHA methods and practices and implement improvements to the McKee Refinery PHA program, including: -involving the workforce in PHA preparation, performance, and follow-up; -training participants; -conducting PHA quality control checks; and -following up on recommendations for timely implementation and appropriate close-out.
Identify all processes in this and other refineries where Valero's mandatory Emergency Isolation Valve standard is applicable, and ensure that Remotely Operable Shut-off Valves (ROSOVs) are installed to control large accidental releases of flammable materials.
Establish corporate requirements for written freeze protection programs at Valero refineries subject to freezing temperatures, including identification, mitigation, MOC, and audit requirements.
Revise Valero standards, including Fire Proofing Specifications, to require evaluation of jet fire scenarios and, as a minimum, ensure more protective fireproofing for pipe rack support steel near process units containing highly pressurized flammables.
Audit PHA performance at its refineries to ensure adherence to company standards and good practice guidelines.
Implement Valero's strategic plan to replace chlorine used as a biocide in cooling water treatment with inherently safer materials, such as sodium hypochlorite, at all refineries.