Spilled gasoline caused October Puerto Rico fire - CSB

17 November 2009 18:24  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) said on Tuesday that spilled gasoline vaporised and caused a fire and blast in late October that destroyed more than 10 petroleum storage tanks owned by Caribbean Petroleum in Puerto Rico.

The CSB has arrived at a likely scenario where a gasoline tank from a ship in the San Juan Harbor was filling above capacity, and gasoline was released without detection. The result was a petroleum vapour cloud that allegedly spread to a 2,000-foot (610 metres) diameter and ignited.

A faulty computer in the facility kept the monitoring system from detecting the overflowed material, according to the CSB's initial investigation.

“The filling of a tank without a functioning monitoring system is the type of activity the CSB will be examining very closely,” said Jeffrey Wanko, lead investigator for CSB. “The CSB’s investigation will examine operations particular to Caribbean Petroleum, but will also look at the regulations and best practices surrounding the industry as a whole in an effort to improve safety practices at similar facilities.”

Eleven of the site's 40 storage tanks were damaged from the fire. There were approximately 30 operational tanks that held gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel and fuel oil before the explosion, the CSB said in a statement.

A nearby refinery, owned by Caribbean Petroleum and idle since 2000, was not affected.

The CSB said it will continue a full investigation of the incident.

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By: Ryan Hickman
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