CSB releases report re: Martinez’s refinery

In February 2014, two workers were injured in a sulfuric acid release at the alkylation unit of Tesoro Corporation’s 161,000 b/d Golden Eagle refinery near Martinez, California. The US Chemical safety Board (CSB) has released a report on the incident determining that loose pipe fittings were the cause of the incident.

The findings, which were prepared by the California-based engineering and laboratory testing firm Anamet Inc., were based on the examination of a stainless steel tube assembly that was found. The spill of the 84,000 lb of sulfuric acid immediately resulted from the insufficient tightening upon installation of a tube and a compression joint located at a sulfuric acid sampling station in the refinery’s alklation unit. The insufficient tightening between the tube, which as a result was pressurized at the time of the incident, and the compression joint allowed the tube to be forced from the joint, probably by internal pressure.

CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso, has stated, “This incident highlights the need for strong process safety management at facilities that ensures mechanical integrity is verified prior to the introduction of hazardous chemicals into equipment…. there are significant opportunities within the refinery for improvement in safety performance.”

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