Wednesday, July 8, 2015

CSB Finds Mismanagement of Gasoline Storage Tank in 2009 Caribbean Petroleum Incident

CSB has released a draft investigation report
on the 2009 explosion at the Caribbean Petroleum (CAPECO) terminal facility near San Juan, Puerto Rico. The explosion occurred when gasoline overflowed during a transfer operation, sprayed out from an aboveground storage tank and formed a 107-acre vapor cloud that ignited. The incident resulted in no fatalities, but damaged 300 homes and businesses, and leaked gasoline into the environment. One major problem CSB found in its investigation was that “facilities such as CAPECO, which store large quantities of gasoline and other flammables, are not required to conduct risk assessment of potential dangers.” 

More specific to the CAPECO incident, CSB found that the measuring devices used for the liquid levels in the tanks were poorly maintained and often nonfunctional. The tanks were maintained using a float-and-tape measuring system that was in place to avoid overfilling and when that system failed, no other layer of protection was in place, such as an independent high level alarm or automatic overfill prevention system. CSB also found that current regulations only require one layer of protection against tank overfill.

CSB recommends EPA, OSHA and American Petroleum Institute adopt new regulations for such facilities to require that flammable storage tanks have automatic overfill protection systems, and to require regular testing, inspections and risk assessments. Having multiple protection systems in place will help to prevent future similar incidents. 

To read the report, visit CSB’s website. An excerpt from the agency's upcoming “Filling Blind” video about the incident is also available.