process safety

tce today - IChemE’s Hazards 25 conference - Trevor Kletz Hazards Lecutre

“A single person, a single manager no matter how powerful they are cannot do it. Leaders can have a major impact – and they do – but ultimately we all have to play a role.”

A recent survey found that just ten of around 150 chemical engineering courses in the US have process safety as part of the core curriculum. Furthermore, professors aren’t doing enough to address the research challenges associated with process safety, said Mannan. Process Safety training


Preventing Disaster in High Risk Organisations

Preventing disaster learning from Longford Esso Gas Plant explosion

Until September 1998 Melbourne, the second largest city in Australia, had all of its gas supplied by one plant, the Esso gas plant at  Longford  in South Eastern Victoria.  It consisted of three gas plants which process gas from wells in Bass Strait, as well as a plant which processes crude oil from other Bass Strait wells. On the 25th of September 1998 Gas Plant One at Longford exploded, causing the death of two operators and injuries to eight others. For two weeks after the blast, Victorians were without gas causing financial hardship for small and large businesses alike, and disrupting the lives of all of Melbourne’s residents – The cost of the crisis was estimated to be $A1.3 billion.

The Government of Victoria held a Royal Commission into this accident- This is the most powerful form of legal inquiry possible in Australia. In July 2001 Esso was fined a record $A2 million in the Victorian Supreme Court after being found guilty of 11 charges under the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act. 

What we discover when we look at the causes of accidents is that they are very similar across a wide range of industries. The things that go wrong in the petroleum industry are also the things that go wrong in the coal mining industry, in the construction industry...and so on.

It means we can transfer lessons from one industry to another. While we are looking at what happened at Longford- and the Lessons that emerge - we need to constantly keep in mind how these lessons can also apply to other industries - and other organisations, such as yours.

Like most accidents, there was not a single cause that made the Longford disaster happen. The diagram that illustrates this may seem complex at first glance, but Professor Andrew Hopkins goes step by step through the diagram to uncover the causes of the accident.

The accident occurred just after midday on a Friday. The accident sequence began about 16 hours earlier. About 8 o’clock the previous night plant operators made a mistake when they incorrectly operated a bypass valve.

The result of that mistake was that condensate began to overflow into parts of the gas processing system where it shouldn’t have been. This was essentially a process upset which the operators were not aware of and didn’t manage. It developed over the next several hours until the next morning about 8 o’clock. Then some warm oil pumps closed down automatically, basically as a process safety precaution. These pumps tripped out because the process upset had got to the point where the system was now in some danger

The plant used processes of heating and cooling, and with the warm oil heating pumps having closed down, the cooling processes were now out of control and the parts of the plant began to cool down, and down, and down to the point where a couple of large metal heat exchangers, 14 tonne heat exchangers were down to minus 48 degrees Celsius, which was way below their design temperature. Frost was forming on the exterior of these vessels, leaks were occurring, and they were now brittle with cold.  Then four hours after the pumps had closed down they tripped out and they got them going again. So here was the second crucial mistake by the operators. They re-introduced warm oil into a brittle cold vessel.

The Royal Commission was deeply disturbed by the fact that the workers were quite unaware of the danger they were in, unaware that they were standing around a bomb that would go off at any moment. The Commission took the view that there was a systematic training failure here.  It concluded that lack of training was, in their words “the real cause”

But we shouldn’t stop there. We need to ask: Why weren’t these workers properly trained? Why was there no training and in particular why was there no training about what to do when warm oil pumps fail?

Preventing Disaster: Learning from Longford
An interactive training workshop with Professor Andrew Hopkins

Obama: Keystone pipeline bill 'has earned my veto'

Obama: Keystone pipeline bill 'has earned my veto'

WASHINGTON — President Obama vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have approved the Keystone XL pipeline, making good on a threat to reject a proposal embraced by Republicans as a jobs measure but opposed by environmentalists as contributing to climate change. 

Follow @gregorykorte on Twitter.

Failure to Learn by Professor Andrew Hopkins soon available in Simplified Chinese!

The widely acclaimed book, Failure to Learn by Professor Andrew Hopkins, has sold well over 30,000 copies worldwide and we are now excited to announce that it is now available in Simplified Chinese!

Available for Corporate licensing in either electronic or hard copy format.

Please contact us for pricing and a "sneak preview"!

Below is the contents page for your information:

Four people dead after spill at DuPont Facility in La Porte

LA Porte, Texas - 4 workers were killed due to a chemical leak at the Dupont facility and another was sent to hospital. 

The facility was involved in a toxic gas leak 15th November around 4am inside an Operations building at the DuPont facility, in La Porte, an industrial suburb 22 miles east of Houston (Photo/Houston Chronicle Marie D.. De Jesus)

Our hearts go out to the families involved.  

The Chemical Safety Board is investigating.  Managing Director, Daniel Horowitz, said the team will begin by meeting with those involved, interviewing eyewitnesses, examining the plant, and gathering all available evidence for testing and review.

The toxic material was Methyl Mercaptan, which is an organic compound and is a colorless gas with a distinctive putrid smell similar to rotten cabbage.

The Chemical was contained by 6am and did not make it out of the facility.  Dupont says the release of the chemical into the air "never should have happened"  Dupont uses the chemical in its crop protection unit, one of two units on the 800-acre complex that employ a combined 320 workers.

 Video can be found here 


Process Safety: CEO’s Face the Test

Interesting article in Oil&Gas Eurasia regarding the emphasis being placed on Process Safety.  The article is written By Ekaterina Pokrovskaya - OGE Dubai Correspondent, November 5, 2014 a link to the article can be found below.


The number of accidents that have taken place in the petroleum industry around the world over the last few decades emphasize the growing importance of process safety management (PSM) practices.

The price of not making PSM elements part of guidance for your daily plant operations may end up very high, if you consider potential risk to human lives, financial damage to the company, environmental costs, possible negative impact on a company’s reputation and a potential plunge in the value of its shares in the stock market.
One example illustrating how damaging these accidents can be is the explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery in March 2005 that killed 15 people, injured 180, and resulted in billions of dollars in financial losses for the company.

Last year, a series of fires devastated the largest U.S. oil refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, just a year after Shell and Saudi Aramco conducted a ceremony in May 2012 to mark the expansion of the co-owned plant to a 600,000 barrels per day capacity.

Similar examples abound, and in order to reduce and prevent accidents it’s highly critical to address the issue of process safety management practices.

Ranger mine spill final report released

At the time of a radioactive and acidic slurry spill at the ranger uranium mine in kakadu national park, the mine operator's process safety management and corporate governance wasn't up to standard. See the full report here: