CSB Intensifies Investigation of Motiva Acid Tank Failure

July 30, 2001
The Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board has dispatched six investigation team members to the site of a storage tank that spent sulfuric acid July 17 in Delaware.


The U.S. Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has dispatched six investigation team members to the site of the catastrophic failure of a storage tank containing spent sulfuric acid at Motiva Enterprise''s Delaware City, Del., refinery.

Eight people were injured in the release accompanying the fire that occurred on July 17. One contract employee is still missing.

The incident happened during maintenance operations near the tank prior to the tank''s failure, which released spent acid and flammable material, which ignited.

Five contract employees were reportedly welding on metal catwalks above the tanks.

An estimated 660,000 gallons of acid have been released, according to an estimate from the company.

Thousands of fish and crab were killed when the acid reached the Delaware River.

The company is attempting to remove the acid from the remaining tanks, which may be leaking their contents, and they are building additional containment walls in an attempt to limit further off-site environmental damage.

Access to the immediate area surrounding the incident location has been limited due to continuing hazards.

Motiva Enterprises released a letter sent to several government agencies that says the collapsed tank was "overdue for inspection," had "open work order(s) to repair a hole in the tank," "had been recommended for removal from service," and "had previous vapor and liquid releases."

"Obviously the CSB is extremely interested in the condition that existed prior to this catastrophic failure," said board member Dr. Andrea Kidd Taylor. "Our investigation team will be looking at, among other items, just what was known about the condition of the tank, the company''s hazard evaluation process and the adequacy of their procedures."

by Virginia Foran

About the Author

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Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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