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Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries 19 (2006) 51–59 www.elsevier.com/locate/jlp

A study of storage tank accidents
James I. Changa,*, Cheng-Chung Linb

Department of safety, Health and Environmental Engineering, National Kaohsiung First University of Science and Technology, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, ROC b Chang-Cheng Storage Station, Chinese Petroleum Corporation, Kaohsiung,Taiwan, ROC Received 5 December 2004; received in revised form 19 May 2005; accepted 26 May 2005

Abstract This paper reviews 242 accidents of storage tanks that occurred in industrial facilities over last 40 years. Fishbone Diagram is applied to analyze the causes that lead to accidents. Corrective actions are also provided to help operating engineers handling similar situations in the future. Theresults show that 74% of accidents occurred in petroleum refineries, oil terminals or storage. Fire and explosion account for 85% of the accidents. There were 80 accidents (33%) caused by lightning and 72 (30%) caused by human errors including poor operations and maintenance. Other causes were equipment failure, sabotage, crack and rupture, leak and line rupture, static electricity, open flamesetc. Most of those accidents would have been avoided if good engineering have been practiced. q 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Fishbone Diagram; Accident statistics, fire and explosion

1. Introduction Storage tanks in refineries and chemical plants contain large volumes of flammable and hazardous chemicals. A small accident may lead to million-dollar property loss and a few daysof production interruption. A large accident results in lawsuits, stock devaluation, or company bankruptcy. In last 50 years, trade organizations and engineering societies such as American petroleum institute (API), American institute of chemical engineers (AIChE), American society of mechanical engineers (ASME), and national fire protection association (NFPA) have published strict engineeringguidelines and standards for the construction, material selection, design and safe management of storage tanks and their accessories (AIChE, 1988; 1993; API, 1988; 1990; ASME, 2004; NFPA, 1992; UL, 1986; 1987). Most companies follow those standards and guidelines in the design, construction and operation, but tank accidents still occur. Learning from the past history is definitely important for thefuture safe operation of storage tanks.

The purpose of this paper is to categorize the causes that lead to 242 tank accidents occurred in last 40 years. The fishbone diagram (The cause and effect diagram) invented by Dr Kaoru Ishikawa (Ishikawa and Lu, 1985) is used to summarize the effects and the causes that create or contribute to those effects. We hope that this work will be beneficial to tankoperators and engineers.

2. Overall statistics The information of 242 tank accidents reviewed in this work was collected from published reports (March and Mclennan, 1990; 1997; 2002; Persson and Lonnermark, 2004), books (CPC, 1983; 2002; Pekalski, 1997; Lees, 1996), CSB incident news (USCSB, 2000–2003) and databases (UQ, 2001; USCHSIB, 2004; ICHemE, 2002; PAJ, 2004; USNOAO, 1999). There were 114occurred in North America, 72 in Asia and 38 in Europe (Table 1). USA had 105 accidents reviewed because of the easy accessibility to accident information. As indicated in Table 2, accidents occurred more frequently at petroleum refineries with 116 cases (47.9%). The second most frequently involved place was terminals and pumping stations (64 cases, 26.4%). Only 25.7% of accidents occurred inpetrochemical plants (12.8%), oil fields (2.5%), and other types of industrial facilities (10.3%) such as power plants, gas plants, pipelines, fertilizer plants,

* Corresponding author. Tel.: C886 916143783; fax: C886 7 6011061. E-mail address: envjames@ccms.nkfust.edu.tw (J.I. Chang).

0950-4230/$ - see front matter q 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.jlp.2005.05.015

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