Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
Chemistry and Pharmacology
Process Engineering, Biotechnology, Nutrition Technology
On October 31, 1987 a crane lifting a heat exchanger convection section failed and severed a 4″ loading line and a 2″ pressure relief line to an HF alkylation reactor settler drum at a petroleum refinery in Texas City, Texas. Vapors were emitted under pressure for about two hours and the vessel was plugged and drained aproximately 44 hours later. A plume from this accidental release passed through residential areas, damaging some vegetation (brown lawns), and spawning a class action law suit. An extensive analysis was conducted to determine the total inventory loss and to model the blowdown process and the concentrations of HF in the plume. Since the discharge rate was decreasing with time, a peak concentration of HF in the emitted vapors occurred just before the water spray mitigation system became fully operative. Consequently, the mitigation efforts were more effective late in the response when concentrations were already low. The predicted plume concentrations are consistent with observed vegetation damage effects, with concentrations below Emergency Response Planning Guideline Level 3 past 3/4 mile from the source. These results support a policy of sheltering in place during such an event.
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