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CSB Factual Update on March 17 ITC Tank Farm Fire in Deer Park, TX

  • 1.  CSB Factual Update on March 17 ITC Tank Farm Fire in Deer Park, TX

    Posted 14 days ago
    Edited by Lauren Grim 14 days ago
    The CSB published a factual update on the March 17 Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) tank farm fire that occurred in Deer Park, Texas.

    An 80,000-barrel above ground atmospheric storage tank containing naphtha and butane caught on fire, and the fire spread to multiple tanks within the tank farm. During the incident, multiple shelter-in-place notices were issued due to reports of benzene and other VOCs in the air. Schools were also closed.

    Evening of March 16: ITC had added butane to the naphtha in the storage tank and was circulating the naphtha / butane to facilitate good mixing using the piping manifold and pump on the outside of the tank.

    7:25 am, March 17: Data indicates unanticipated changes to the operating pump's operation, suggesting a mechanical problem.

    9:34 am: Naphtha and butane began to release from the tank. By about 10:00 am, 221 barrels of naphtha / butane had released from the atmospheric storage tank.

    10:00 am: The naphtha / butane ignited, initiating the fire which eventually spread to other tanks.

    March 20: Fire was extinguished.

    March 22: A section of the tank farm dike wall failed, releasing a mixture of chemicals, water, and firefighting foam to waterways, including the Houston ship channel.

    The atmospheric storage tank piping manifold was not equipped with remotely operated isolation valves, and the release from the tank could not be isolated during the release and fire, contributing to the magnitude of the incident.

    The Factual Update can be accessed here: https://www.csb.gov/assets/1/20/itc_factual_update_2019-10-30.pdf?16522

    The investigation is ongoing. At the conclusion of the investigation, the CSB will publish an investigation report detailing findings and recommendations.

    Lauren Grim, PE,CFEI
    Supervisory Chemical Incident Investigator
    U.S. Chemical Safety Board
    Denver, CO