Corrosion in old pipelines

Here’s another contribution by Jan Hayes, who sent these links to me because of the relevance to the pipeline industry, and similarities between San Bruno, and Enbridge Marshall.

A recent CSB (Chemical Safety Board) video, titled “Wake Up Call: Refinery Disaster in Philadelphia,” (20mins) details a fire, explosions, and toxic hydrofluoric acid (HF) release that occurred at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) refinery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 21, 2019.

The trigger for the accident was corrosion in an old section of line that had not been recently inspected and did not comply with current mechanical/material standards for HF piping. Similar to San Bruno, we have latent mechanical integrity problems that have not been identified, partly due to grandfathering.

On a more positive note, the operator-initiated safety protocols within 30s of the initial leak significantly limited the amount of HF lost. This is in major contrast to the Enbridge Marshall case where the operators continued to ship through a failed line for an extended period.

It could be interesting to compare the two in more detail. 

Included in the email exchange was a response from Andrew Hopkins, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at ANU, who wrote: “The CSB really does make excellent videos. I was stimulated to take a look at the CSB  written report.  It too is very good- much more coherent than for instance the Texas City Refinery disaster report.  In particular it includes an excellent accimap, one of the best I’ve seen.”