WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has released a safety video entitled “Fire in Baton Rouge” detailing the CSB’s Key Lessons stemming from the 2016 fire at the ExxonMobil Refinery that seriously injured four workers. The CSB’s latest video includes a new four-minute animation explaining the events leading up to the incident.
The fire occurred when operators inadvertently removed bolts that secured a piece of pressure-containing equipment to a type of valve known as a plug valve. When the operators then attempted to open the valve, it came apart and released flammable isobutane, which formed a vapor cloud that quickly ignited.
CSB’s safety bulletin states that only 15 out of about 500 plug valves used the flawed support bracket design, which was more than 30 years old. The agency pointed to the refinery’s “failure to identify and address the older model plug valve design and gearbox reliability issues” as among its deficiencies.
The bulletin lists the following recommendations for chemical manufacturing facilities:
- Use the Hierarchy of Controls to alleviate hazards and look at “human factors associated with operational difficulties that exist in your machinery and other equipment.”
- Create accurate and detailed procedures for potentially dangerous work, including removing inoperable gearboxes.
- Supply training – focused on equipment and processes – to ensure workers can perform their duties safely, boost hazard awareness and prevent incidents.