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Facility:
PEMEX LPG Terminal
Location:
San Juanico, Mexico
Date of accident:
19 November 1984
Type of accident:
  • Release of toxic/flammable materials
  • Explosion
  • Fire
Offshore/onshore accident:
Onshore
Number of fatalities:
600
Number of people injured:
7000

PEMEX LPG Terminal, San Juanico, Mexico, 19 November 1984

SUMMARY

A 200mm pipe between a storage cylinder and sphere ruptured, releasing LPG. The release continued for some 5 to 10 minutes resulting in a large gas cloud which ignited, causing an explosion and many ground fires.

These ground fires led to a series of Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapour Explosions (BLEVEs) in the LPG terminal. The outstanding cause of escalation was the ineffective gas detection system and as a result, lack of emergency isolation.

 

LESSONS

  • Siting of major hazards installation
    The high death toll occurred because of the proximity of the plant to residential areas.
  • Fire and explosion hazard management
    Good fire and explosion hazard management strategy requires effective prevention, detection and emergency response barriers. The total destruction of the facility occurred because there was a failure of the overall system of protection, including layout, emergency isolation and water spray systems. The terminal’s fire water system was disabled in the initial blast. The plant had no gas detection system and therefore when the emergency isolation was initiated it was probably too late.
  • Boiling liquid expanding vapour explosions (BLEVE) hazards
    The accident showed that BLEVEs are an important hazard.
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