An investigation by the Galveston Fire Marshal’s Office determined sparks from a welding rig ignited an explosion and subsequent fire at an oil tank, injuring two people Tuesday at the Pelican Island Storage Terminal.

James LaCombe: 409-683-5242, or on Twitter @JamesAtGalvNews


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(7) comments

John long

As a refinery worker for 37 years, I first want to wish those two workers hopefully a full and speedy recovery. Safety is everything, especially when working around hydrocarbons. Never proceed with any job, if you detect a possible hazard. Good luck to them and their families.

Jose' Boix

Having worked in the chemical industry for 35 years I agree with Mr. Long's sentiments and comments. While lacking specific details aside what is published, no "hot work" could start in our facilities until a Hot Work Permit was issued - after ensuring the area was safe and checked for flammables, etc.

Ted Gillis

“During the survey, TCEQ didn’t observe any odors or detect any emissions”.

Of course they didn’t.

Jim Forsythe

Ted, why do you not believe when they said, They conducted air monitoring in the area surrounding the tank farm and didn’t observe any odors or detect any emissions. If you have worked in a place that tests for hydrocarbons, you know that a gas test is only accurate at the time it is taken. Sometimes hydrocarbons are in the area only for a short time. This short time is all it takes for bad things to happen.

As John said, I first want to wish those two workers hopefully a full and speedy recovery.

Bailey Jones

...a full and speedy recovery, followed by some safety training.

Ted Gillis

Jim, I work in the building trades, not in the refinery sector, however I am very aware of safety precautions in the workplace. We have safety meetings daily, and the contractors keep records of all incidents. This reporting tool is also used as a modifier for the insurance industry. Owners are very aware of each contractors safety record as they share the risk by having them on their property.

The article states that Texas A&M (a nearby neighbor) has filed several complaints, with a hearing pending.

The TCEQ should be conducting continuous sampling, not just a one time, post incident site visit. That’s my point. Give this agency more inspectors and more enforcement authority. The current political mood is to allow industry to oversee themselves. That’s fine, but make them understand that the consequences are severe if they do not.

Jim Forsythe

The issue with Texas A&M may not have anything to do with what happened. The odor A&M was smelling could have been Benzine, Ammonia, H2S, or something else that would not have caused this problem.

Ted, what happens after a problem like this, they will place continuous monitors to give a report over an extended period of time to give an accounting of the flammable amounts in the area. Not all explosive substances have a smell. With TECQ and OSHA on-site they will check all potential points were the vapors and or liquid could have come from.

Ted, if you never have been part of an investigation after an explosion, you may not know what goes into the recreating of what happened.

TECQ and OSHA will review if all permits issued correctly, was the policies followed, ask questions of all involved, was the firefighting equipment in place enough to handle problems, were people trained to use it, and many more questions. It is a good possibility that TCEQ didn’t observe any odors or detect any emissions by the time they arrived on the scene.

If you had worked in Refineries you would know that odors can be in an area one minute and not be there the next. John and I had years of experience, we worked for Amoco and BP, and with this type of set up and know that anytime bad things can happen. If I was to guess, the problem may be with the vent system on the tank. This would be one of the things I would look at. Also with it happening toward the hot part of the day, it could be a problem with the product in the tank expanding and causing a problem.

If they were welding a hot tap, then that would be a different problem than a vent.

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