In the early hours of Sunday December 11, 2005, a number of explosions occurred at the Buncefield Oil Storage Depot in the UK. At least one of the initial explosions was massive, engulfing much of the site in a blazing inferno. Over 40 people were injured; but fortunately there were no fatalities. Significant damage occurred to both commercial and residential properties in the vicinity and a large area around the site was evacuated on the advice of the emergency services. The fire burned for several days, destroying most of the site and emitting large clouds of black smoke into the atmosphere. Five companies were fined as a result. This included the tank gauging supplier.
During a recent press conference by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), an independent safety certification organization in the UK, Gordon MacDonald presented three related questions for companies to ponder. ARC Advisory Group added a fourth question based on a presentation given by the AIChE’s Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) at the Texas A&M Instrumentation and Automation Symposium earlier this year.
1. Do we understand what could go wrong?
2. Do we know what systems are in place to prevent this from happening?
3. Do we have the information to assure us that these systems are working effectively?
4. What is my role?
These are great questions for any industrial organization to ask itself. Ac-cording to the American Chemical Council (ACC), incident rates have declined steadily.
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Keywords: Process Safety, SIS, Lifecycle Management, IEC61151, ISA84, ARC Advisory Group.