Following the explosion and fire at the Chevron Pembroke Refinery on 2 June Britain’s Health and Safety Executive, HSE, has issued a reminder of the risks of tank cleaning operations and precautions to be taken. Said to be Britain’s worst refinery incident since 1974, four lives were lost and one person was hospitalised with serious burns.
Three of the deceased were contractors employed by BDS,a local company, working in a large storage tank on the refinery’s sulphur recovery plant. The two other workers were fire marshals from Hertel, a national contracting company. The incident was contained on site and there
were no offsite effects. The refinery is a ‘top tier’ establishment under the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (as a mended), COMAH.
Tank cleaning operations were in progress within the amine recovery unit at the refinery site when there was an explosion and subsequent fire.
The risks associated with tank cleaning are widely recognised in the major hazard industries and there are well established control measures. These are outlined in:
- Safe maintenance, repair and cleaning procedures, Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002. Approved Code of Practice and Guidance, L137, HSE.
- Guidance on permit-to-work systems: A guide for the petroleum, chemical and allied industries, HS(G)250, HSE, and
- Code of Safe Practice Part 16 – Tank Cleaning Safety Code.Energy Institute,
Site operators should review their arrangements for cleaning tanks that contain hazardous substances and ensure that they meet current good practice.
Thanks to SafeSpace member Chris Young of Headland Media for bring this one to our attention.