US safety board traces Texas refinery acid release to leaky flange

16 March 2012 17:41  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The cause of a hydrofluoric acid release on 5 March at CITGO’s 163,000 bbl/day Corpus Christi refinery in Texas can be traced to a leaky flange, a government agency said Friday.

The flange had leaks since September, said the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB).

Although there were no injuries from the accident, it resulted in the release of 300-500 pounds of hydrofluoric acid.

The leak occurred because of a failed seal on a 12-inch flange on a process vessel in the alkylation unit, said CSB lead investigator Johnnie Banks.

Maintenance was ongoing on the flange since January, and the unit was not shut down. Rather, a clamp was issued in order to stop the leak, Banks said. The proposed design of the new clamp was rejected multiple times and the approved clamp had not been installed by 5 March when the hydrofluoric acid release occurred.

The CSB noted it had earlier investigated another accident involving the relase of hydrofluoric acid at the refinery.

On 19 July 2009, a hydrocarbon flash fire resulted in a release of HF in the same process unit.

By: Anna Matherne

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