EPSC Learning Sheet

Crude Spill in a tank pit

Published 11 February 2020

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What Happened?

At a refinery a crude line was drained to place a blind before a tank that was in maintenance. During a next transfer ca 100 ton crude leaked through the drain valve into the tank pit. The crude was not ignited.

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Aspects:

Crude contains sludge that can compromise the closing of hand valves, as was here the cause of the leak

The drain valve was not secured with a blind or end cap

The transfer system had not undergone a leak pressure test, after being opened and closed (a blind-flange was placed)

It is good practice to walk the line before, or just after starting, a transfer. Notice missing end-caps after a drain!

The detection of the large crude leak only coincidentally happened by an operator smelling the crude during the night

ATEX compliance in the tank pit did help to avoid ignition

Checking the tank level versus the pump or flow speed can help to detect leaks or wrong line-up in an early stage

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