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Learning from Fire Accident at Bouali Sina Petrochemical Complex Plant

The dependency of the society on the hydrocarbon as an energy source has increased tremendously, leading to the rapid development of this process industry. A fire accident that occurred on the 6th of July 2016 at a petrochemical complex plant in the
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  LESSONS LEARNED Learning from Fire Accident at Bouali Sina PetrochemicalComplex Plant Mohammad Yazdi  . Kehinde Adewale Adesina  . Orhan Korhan  . Farzaneh Nikfar Submitted: 7 April 2019/Accepted: 13 August 2019   ASM International 2019 Abstract  The dependency of the society on the hydro-carbon as an energy source has increased tremendously,leading to the rapid development of this process industry. Afire accident that occurred on the 6th of July 2016 at apetrochemical complex plant in the southern part of Iran,Mahshahr petrochemical zone, has called for a more robustand all-inclusive efforts toward ameliorating and fore-stalling future occurrence. The on-site investigationsconcluded that the fire was triggered by the leakagesthrough the ruptured blind flange gasket in the pipeline.Thus, certain inquiries on the development of robust pro-cess safety technologies gave useful insight into thosecapable enough to identify and handle various uncertaintiesin the short and long time basis, to forestall catastrophicaccidents. Therefore, it is worthy and pertinent to ascertainwhether process safety technology is developing corre-spondingly at the same pace with the process industry. Arethe correct things done in the right way? If yes, then whydo these catastrophic accidents keep happening? If no, howcan these uncertainties in the process be properly andadequately handled, contained and managed? Failure toprovide adequate and incontrovertible answers to thesequestions toward taking uncompromising safety actions isan invitation to more accidents in the near future. In thisstudy, explanation on how to identify and cope with vari-ous uncertainties in process safety science is providedthrough learning from a real case study of a fire accidentthat occurred in the aforementioned petrochemical plant. Keywords  Process safety    Hazards   Resilience engineering    Ambiguities    Para-xylene   Fire Introduction Mahshahr petrochemical zone in the southern part of Iran,on the 6th of July 2016, witnessed a 3 day of an extremelyintense fire accident within some facilities belonging to apetrochemical complex plant. The fire incident destroyedthe para-xylene (unit 900), p-xylene (para-xylene) tower,and storage naphtha tank (2001C) causing huge losses tothe entire plant in terms of the assets, revenues, and theenvironment. The extent of the damage as reported by anIranian insurance company was estimated to revolvearound 94 million euros and was said to be the most seriousfire accident in the history of the Iranian petrochemicalindustry. Tasnim [1] reported that at least a period of 3 weeks will be required to put the plant back on streamafter the explosion. However, the para-xylene tower wasshut down for a much longer period of time. An investi-gation was launched into the incident to unravel the reasonsbehind the incidence with the view of preventing futureoccurrence; analysis of the results obtained is presented in‘‘Investigation of Fire Accident at Bouali Sina M. Yazdi ( & )    F. NikfarMahshahr Petrochemical Special Economic Zone, Mahshahr,Irane-mail: mohammad_yazdi@live.comF. Nikfare-mail: f.nikfar20@gmail.comK. A. AdesinaFood Engineering Department, Near East University, Via Mersin10, Lefkosia, North Cyprus, TNRC, Turkeye-mail: kehinde.adesina@neu.edu.trO. KorhanDepartment of Industrial Engineering, Eastern MediterraneanUniversity, 99628 Famagusta, North Cyprus, Turkeye-mail: orhan.korhan@emu.edu.tr  1 3 J Fail. Anal. and Preven.https://doi.org/10.1007/s11668-019-00769-w  Petrochemical Plant’’ section. Iran as one of the countriesthat is potentially prominent in exploring, exploiting, pro-cessing, and exporting hydrocarbon products is potentiallyprone to the fire accidents and could stand the risk of highpropensity for developing domino effects. To buttress, thelatter statement is other similar fire accidents that occurredwithin the same year. On the 8th of July, to be precise, anemployee died in a liquefied gas pipeline explosion at theMarun oil and gas production company. On 29th of July,Bisotoon petrochemical plant in Kermanshah was engulfedin flames; this incident released linear alkyl benzene andheavy alkyl benzene to the environment. Another one onAugust 6th, at the Gachsaran Oil and Gas Company, wheretwo fire accidents broke out in the ruptured 42-inch gaspipeline; the Aghar and Dalan gas transmission line injuredfive employees. One of them actually died at the hospitaldue to the severity of the injuries sustained during theexplosion. We recalled a minor inferno of the BandarImam petrochemical precisely on August 19th, and the listgoes on. Table 1 provides the number of petrochemical fireoccurrence in Iran just for the year 2016 alone.A study of Al-shanini et al. [2] on some recent majoraccidents (fire and explosion) in the chemical processindustry worldwide revealed that accidents in processfacilities are on the increase and opined that a more holisticand robust analysis is required to prevent them fromreoccurring.The current paper mainly focuses on how to handle theuncertainty in process safety science to prevent a catas-trophic and major accident. The main contribution of thisstudy is provided as follows; in the next section, theinvestigation of fire occurrence of Bouali Sinapetrochemical complex plant is presented; ‘‘Learning fromthe Experience’’ section explains how uncertainty can behandled properly having learnt from the mentioned fireaccidents, ‘‘Conclusion’’ section concludes the study. Investigation of Fire Accident at Bouali SinaPetrochemical Plant The fire started around 17:15 and escalated quickly thanever imagined. The workers in Unit 900 discovered the fireand evacuated the scene immediately. The exact startingpoint is seen in Fig. 1 closer to Tower 8001 (para-xyleneseparation tower). This tower has been described as thehighest petrochemical tower in Iran and all the Middle Eastwith a height of about 128 meters. The statuses of the para-xylene separation tower before the inferno and after theywere engulfed in flames are depicted in Figs. 2 and 3, respectively.Pumps P-8001A/B/C are responsible for transporting themixture of xylene liquids into the furnace H-8001. Themechanical seal of the pump P-8001A was reported to havebroken down few weeks to the accident and was sent to theworkshop for repair and overhauling. However, two blin-ded plates were put on the line to improvise the seal, inorder to keep the plant in operation. The investigationequally captured that at about or around 7 am, the workersat the para-xylene unit reported to the control room whenthere was a hydrocarbon leakage from the mechanical sealof the pump (P-8001C). The pump was isolated, and amanual gearbox was adapted and managed instead of thepump (P-8001C). With this, there was pressure built up Table 1  The most important petrochemical industrial fire accidents in Iran (2016)Date Location Type of damage21 MayShahid Tondgooyan petrochemicalcompanyFire in the mixing reactor caused a lot of property damage that wasestimated to worth more than 3 million euro23 MayBandar Imam petrochemical company Human losses, where three workers are currently receiving pensiondisability insurance20 JuneMaroon petrochemical company Human losses; two employees on pension disability insurance due totoxic release that disabled them bodily and permanently6 JulyBouali Sina petrochemical company Property damage, the whole of the zone (including 9 petrochemicals)was shut down for 2 days. It was estimated that for Bouali Sinapetrochemical company, the worth of the damages was more than 90million euros. This case has been tagged the worse fire accident everin Iran with acute economic losses29 JulyMobin petrochemical company Human loss; a worker passed away6 AugustBandar Imam petrochemical company Property damage estimated to be more than 1 million euroJ Fail. Anal. and Preven.  1 3  beyond the capacity of the remaining pump (P-8001B).During the manual transferring gearbox to the location at5:15 PM, the blind flange gasket installed on the line of thepump (P-8001A) has been ruptured and was leaking thehydrocarbon to the environment at a pressure and tem-perature of 10.5 bar and 300   C, respectively. Thevaporized hydrocarbon reached the ignition source of thefurnace (H-8001) located 10 meters north of the leakagepoint leading to the ignition and burning around that area.As known, para-xylene is an aromatic hydrocarbon, ahighly flammable and toxic compound with a boiling pointof more than 138   C, a non-volatile compound having itsvapor heavier than air and also highly explosive. Thecombustion led to the production of a large cloud of combustible gases which, diffused through the area and,re-ignited into further burning with a large pool of fire.Figures 4 and 5 depict the happenings within the furnace (H-8001) as explained above with how it got through thefluid line into the Tower (8001). It should be noticed thatmost of the Figures are obtained from open access pub-lished Bouali Sina fire accident report [3].The continuous flow of the fluid line aggravated theburning beyond the capacity of the firefighters. The hotinsulation cover of the tower to the open/floating roof of naphtha tanks (TK-2001A/C) was blown off by the wind,and the released gases resulted in the further explosion atthe naphtha tank. Figure 6 illustrates the location of naphtha tanks, and Fig. 7 shows how the fire occurred onthe tank (TK-2001A/C). The diameter and height of thetanks are 52 and 18 meters, respectively, with each meter Fig. 1  The fire starting point inthe Bouali Sina petrochemicalcompany fire accident Fig. 2  The para-xyleneseparation tower of Bouali Sinapetrochemical company beforethe infernoJ Fail. Anal. and Preven.  1 3  of height contains 1560 tons of naphtha. Besides, thecontent of the level of tanks during the accident was 5meters for TK-2001A and 13 meters for TK-2001C. Fig-ure 8 shows the separation tower surrounded by theburning fire. To prevent further spread of the fire, thefirefighters prioritized the separation tower in their attemptto put off the fire; it took the firefighters 17 h to completelyextinguish the fire without any casualty. This fire did nothave any human fatalities; however, adjacent equipmentwas destroyed completely. Figures 9 and 10 illustrate the separation tower and adjacent equipment after the fire hasbeen completely extinguished.Figure 11 captured the starting point of the fire accidentin the naphtha tanks; the emergency response teambelieved that it could put it under control using the delugesystems and hence the more reason extinguishing the fire atthe separation tower was prioritized. It was reported thatsome efforts were made toward controlling the fire on tanks(TK-2001A/C) immediately the fire began prior to extin-guishing the fire on tank (TK-2001A). This attempt wasunsuccessful as a result of limited amount of foaming agentand extinguishing system leaving the fire on the tank (TK-2001C) to continue unabated for another 60 h. Naphthawas transferred from its tank to another tank close in such amanner that the firefighters were able to control the fire assoon as possible. Figures 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 illustrate the naphtha tank (TK-2001C) before, during, and after thefire incident. Consequentially, the plant was completelyshut down for 2 months while it took the concern InsuranceCompany one and a half years to assess and quantify thedirect losses as a worth of 94 million euros. Other indirectcosts such as the reputation of the company and the impacton the environment due to pollution were not quantified. Inthe next section, explanations on how we can learn fromthis accident and in which concept it is necessary to focuson are provided. Fig. 3  The para-xylene separation tower of Bouali Sinapetrochemical company after the inferno Fig. 4  The schematic diagramof the starting point in thefurnace 8001J Fail. Anal. and Preven.  1 3  Learning from the Experience Chemical process safety is an area that is developing sig-nificantly within the chemical, oil and gas, and otherrelated industries. They are completely risk-based sectorswhere some major process accidents, near misses, mishaps,incidents, and others have increased in recent decades. Thisincrease has shaped and influenced process safety scienceto make important operational decisions to identify andmeasure the associated risks so as to prevent potentiallosses in the process industries. Table 2 represented thenumber of catastrophic accidents that occurred in recentdecades and the changes which has brought useful devel-opment into process safety science after the accident.However, many researchers have attempted to developprocess safety science using different tools. Figure 17presents different significant key contributions to thedevelopment of process safety science either implicitly orexplicitly. However, the main motivation for learning fromthe accident is based on moral and ethical issues meaningthat they are imperative in preventing a catastrophic acci-dent in the process industries. Besides, there are severalreasons like financial, reputational, legal, and even socialthat could be implemented in order to avoid such catas-trophic accidents. To understand how we need to answerthe following questions: are the  right things done? What can go wrong? How bad could it be? And how often can it happen?!  Hashemi et al. [4] opined that providing adequateand appropriate answers to the listed questions dependlargely on the personality of who is responding. Severalattempts have been done to achieve a set of consensus inresponding to the aforementioned questions by some group Fig. 5  The schematic diagramfor the distribution of the firethrough fluid line from thefurnace to the tower Fig. 6  The location of naphthatanks and separation towerJ Fail. Anal. and Preven.  1 3
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