STATIC SPARK IGNITES FLAMMABLE LIQUID

Created on January 30, 2017

I have reviewed some incident investigation reports during last year from US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). I would like to share a simple lesson learned resulted from one of CSB incident investigation report which may be useful for our daily activities related to filling operations. Here is the summarized information.

300-gallon portable steel tank (tote), was being filled with Ethyl Acetate. An operator placed the fill nozzle in the fill opening on top of the tote and suspended a steel weight on the nozzle to keep it in place. Operator leaving the room to do another work after opening the valve. As the tote was filling, a ‘popping’ sounds is heard. Suddenly, the tote engulfed in flames and the fill nozzle laying on the floor discharging Ethyl Acetate. The fire spread rapidly to the wood-framed warehouse, igniting a large volume of flammable and combustible liquids. As the results, the consequences due to this incident is one injury while another is treated for heat-related illness.

DID YOU KNOW WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENED?

  • Under the conditions the Ethyl Acetate was being handled at the time of the incident, an ignitable vapor-air mixture formed near the tote fill opening,
  • A static discharge (spark) between the tote body and a metal component on the fill nozzle/ hose assembly, which included the steel weight, likely ignited the vapor-air mixture,
  • A spark originated from accumulated static on the metal parts of the plastic fill nozzle and rubber hose assembly, which were not properly bonded and grounded,
  • Local exhaust ventilation system to remove vapors generated during filling operations was not turn on.
  • The manufacturer’s technical documentation for the nozzle and hose revealed it was not intended for flammable service.

KEY LESSON LEARNED

  • Ensure that equipment such as fill nozzles and hoses are bonded, grounded, and designed for flammable service.
  • Use bonded and grounded metal dip pipes when top-filling portable tanks for flammbale service.
  • Install fire suppression system in flammable packaging areas in case of rapid spread of the fire.
  • Separate flammable packaging from bulk storage areas.

The important key point that we can take from this incident is:

“Effective bonding and grounding should be properly put in place when handling flammable liquids!!”

Kind Regards,
Ir. Beny Desiatwan, SFS
Process Safety Engineer
LebSolution

Company Website : www.lebsolution.com
Company Linked-In : http://www.linkedin.com/company/lebsolution-indonesia


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