Malfunctioning Fuel Monitoring System Might Cause Puerto Rico Fuel Storage Fire

U.S Chemical Safety Board (CSB) exposed its initial investigation over the fire explosion on last October 23, 2009, at Puerto Rico fuel storage depot, which is owned by Caribbean Petroleum Corp in Bayamon, San Juan.puerto-rico-fire

According to CSB, the accident was caused by malfunctioning of fuel level monitoring system that made the gasoline tank overfilled. No employees were aware about the tank overfilling since the computerized level monitoring system was not fully operational, as reported by Reuters.

Why did this accident happen?

You may have read my previous article about hazard identification. Hazard identification has to be completed before an operation is implemented. In the view of process safety, it is a part of HAZOPS or Hazard and Operability Studies.

I am not sure whether there is a back up system or not for monitoring the tank level at the gasoline storage facility, if the main fuel level monitoring system is failed. However, if hazard identification of malfunctioning of fuel level monitoring system has been included, a secondary level monitoring system will be provided in order to prevent such an emergency case.

Again, this is a very good real case study. We should take a lesson from this accident to improve our own systems. Remember, a famous safety slogan that says “Learn safety from others; don’t let people learn from you”.

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