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30kbd HF alkylation unit fire / explosion at 335kbd PES refinery, Philadelphia

30kbd HF alkylation unit fire / explosion at 335kbd PES refinery, Philadelphia

30kbd HF alkylation unit fire / explosion at 335kbd PES refinery, Philadelphia

(OP)
Regrettably, this is a repeat of similar incidents in the recent past, and yet the US CSB doesnt seem to have the teeth to call for change with these oil companies.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjkxvkIfafw

RE: 30kbd HF alkylation unit fire / explosion at 335kbd PES refinery, Philadelphia

One of the buildings near the epicenter of the explosion appears to have a steel "exoskeleton" to reinforce the (presumably masonry) walls for blast. Based on this view at least, it looks like it performed well. Maybe an example of an engineering success amid the catastrophe. Again I'm just speculating, but I'm pretty sure those are bolted-on steel members for blast protection.

RE: 30kbd HF alkylation unit fire / explosion at 335kbd PES refinery, Philadelphia

I worked the last four years in the oil and gas industry; much of that time was spent doing refinery retrofit projects. To be frank, I'm a tad surprised this doesn't happen more often. In the refineries I was working in there was a very cavalier attitude towards structural design. We had absolutely no review from a permitting authority and no involvement what-so-ever during construction. You walk through a refinery and see countless things that obviously had no engineering. IMO, the oil industry is their own worst enemy.

RE: 30kbd HF alkylation unit fire / explosion at 335kbd PES refinery, Philadelphia

That was the control room. It was indeed hardened against this type of incident. It preformed admirably.

RE: 30kbd HF alkylation unit fire / explosion at 335kbd PES refinery, Philadelphia

WOW. That was a BLEVE and a half. If you look closely at about 24 seconds, you can see a large pressure vessel being ejected at some speed. It must have gone miles.

Heaven only knows how that lot didn't kill or injure more people.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: 30kbd HF alkylation unit fire / explosion at 335kbd PES refinery, Philadelphia

I can't tell if that's a pressure vessel or just a tank. When they zoom out after that, you can see a new smoke/fire area on the far left ,that might be where it landed.

This clip mentions them removing a tank, but I can't tell if they're removing one from the interior of the plant or retrieving the flying tank:
https://6abc.com/new-photos-show-tank-that-explode...

RE: 30kbd HF alkylation unit fire / explosion at 335kbd PES refinery, Philadelphia

It almost looks like a splash in the distance. Perhaps it landed in the river.

Location

Edit: A photo in the previous post seems to show them pulling it out of the river.

RE: 30kbd HF alkylation unit fire / explosion at 335kbd PES refinery, Philadelphia

My niece worked there (now actively seeking employment), fortunately safe at home during the explosion. Amazing that no one was killed or even seriously injured. When they realized there was a problem, one employee left the block house to investigate. He went out, saw a large vapor cloud, turned around and started back into the block house when it ignited. The blast blew him in through the open door and slammed the door behind him.

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RE: 30kbd HF alkylation unit fire / explosion at 335kbd PES refinery, Philadelphia

(OP)
This Phillips process for alkylation to mop up excess isobutane in a refinery is a process scheme from hell if you ask me - there are only a few chemicals more deadly than HF.

RE: 30kbd HF alkylation unit fire / explosion at 335kbd PES refinery, Philadelphia

In all fairness, the (currently beleaguered) CSB is primarily an investigative organization, and not a rule making or enforcement agency. Moreover, as reported in C&E News April 28 " The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board has called on the US Environmental Protection Agency to review its regulation of hydrofluoric acid. One-third of the nation’s 150 petrochemical refineries use HF to produce high-octane gasoline. The CSB’s April 24 statement urges the EPA to reexamine and update a 1993 study to determine the effectiveness of existing risk management program requirements as well as the viability of using inherently safer alkylation technologies in refineries." Reads like a call for change to me.

RE: 30kbd HF alkylation unit fire / explosion at 335kbd PES refinery, Philadelphia

(OP)
The H2SO4 catalyst route, though safer, has many problems. How well this new alkylation process license from Chevron ( which has been around for some <5years) is not the public knowledge domain yet as far as I know. Another way, I would suggest, is to do away with the problem altogether - refineries should get used to having a lower RON in their gasoline product pool, while excess iC4 could be blended into LPG, provided the industry is willing to accept a higher vapor pressure for LPG.

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