Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#51

Post by Reality Check » Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:41 pm

neeneko wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 5:45 pm

It was not a flare. Billowing black/brown smoke. I live right around the refineries, what I saw last night looked more like what you would get from an auto or building fire.
OK, could have been smoking from one of the furnaces or boilers. Dunno.
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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#52

Post by tek » Sat Jun 22, 2019 5:30 am

Somerset wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:02 pm
How much of the US overall/Eastern US gasoline refining capacity does this refinery represent?
https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/refineryc ... table1.pdf

I'm not exactly sure how to read this report, but it looks like about 1/4 of the total northeast refining capacity..
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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#53

Post by neeneko » Sun Jun 23, 2019 9:42 am

Reality Check wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:41 pm
OK, could have been smoking from one of the furnaces or boilers. Dunno.
My point is that something atypical and large enough to be seen for miles around happened on the site about 10 hours before the accident.

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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#54

Post by Reality Check » Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:25 am

neeneko wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 9:42 am
[My point is that something atypical and large enough to be seen for miles around happened on the site about 10 hours before the accident.
I have read several articles and watched some videos but none of them mentioned anything from the previous evening. They all say the fire started around 4 AM and after it had burned a while there was a large explosion. This NBC video captured that pretty well:

https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/lo ... 75682.html

The explosion looked like a classic BLEVE. That is a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion. These occur when a vessel, tank, or tank car filled with liquid petroleum gas ruptures and release a large amount of product quickly. The rupture is usually caused by an external fire that heats up the vessel and weakens the metal. This generates a large amount of hydrocarbon vapor that ignites all at once. This explosion is like a bomb detonating and generates a shock wave that can be felt for miles.

One of the key actions in fighting a refinery fire is using water to cool surrounding pipes and equipment to keep them from rupturing. You can see them doing that in some of the videos. Once containment is lost you try to isolate the damaged equipment but sometimes there is a lot of liquid left that just has to burn itself out.

The Chemical Safety Board will do a thorough investigation of the incident. They will usually do a computer animation of the incident to show what caused it. If something unusual happened prior to the fire they will capture it in the report.
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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#55

Post by kate520 » Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:34 am

I don’t have source but I read last night that this is the second big accident there recently and that they been fined for...something. (In a car with pushy puppy won’t let me type. MUST PET)

ETA: Our gas prices go up next month as tax kicks in. But they jumped .30/gal yesterday ...
due to this?
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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#56

Post by Reality Check » Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:52 am

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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#57

Post by Reality Check » Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:55 am

kate520 wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:34 am

ETA: Our gas prices go up next month as tax kicks in. But they jumped .30/gal yesterday ...
due to this?
If I had to guess the worries over war with Iran have more to do with rising gasoline prices than this incident. This refinery only represents 1.7% of US refining capacity.
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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#58

Post by Sugar Magnolia » Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:56 am

Reality Check wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:55 am
kate520 wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:34 am

ETA: Our gas prices go up next month as tax kicks in. But they jumped .30/gal yesterday ...
due to this?
If I had to guess the worries over war with Iran have more to do with rising gasoline prices than this incident. This refinery only represents 1.7% of US refining capacity.
Any increase yesterday is most likely a result of something that happened weeks ago anyway. You pay the gas price at the pump that the gas was purchased at a month ago (or whatever the time line is), not based on anything that happens today. Summer blends, Memorial Day, all sorts of things make it fluctuate.

I filled up yesterday for $2.03/gal.

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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#59

Post by neeneko » Sun Jun 23, 2019 12:34 pm

Reality Check wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:25 am
I have read several articles and watched some videos but none of them mentioned anything from the previous evening. They all say the fire started around 4 AM and after it had burned a while there was a large explosion. This NBC video captured that pretty well:
*nod* 4am is when the dramatic part happened. Fires like the one I saw the previous evening generally do not make the news, so I am not surprised it wasn't reported on.
The Chemical Safety Board will do a thorough investigation of the incident. They will usually do a computer animation of the incident to show what caused it. If something unusual happened prior to the fire they will capture it in the report.
If they were related, yeah, this is where I would expect to see it. It would be a really odd coincidence for there to be a significant fire less than half a day before a catastrophic failure, so I am wondering if something was damaged or shut off or otherwise messed up by the first accident causing the much more dramatic second one.

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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#60

Post by ZekeB » Sun Jun 23, 2019 12:46 pm

Sugar Magnolia wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:56 am
Any increase yesterday is most likely a result of something that happened weeks ago anyway. You pay the gas price at the pump that the gas was purchased at a month ago (or whatever the time line is), not based on anything that happens today. Summer blends, Memorial Day, all sorts of things make it fluctuate.
They use spot pricing where I live. It doesn't matter how much the gas in the underground tanks cost them, they price it daily based on the spot price of delivered fuel for that day. The amusing thing about pricing in my little burg is the fact that there are six gas stations and they all charge the exact same price. When one station changes up or down, all others follow suit within an hour. There is no collusion. :liar:
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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#61

Post by Sugar Magnolia » Sun Jun 23, 2019 12:55 pm

ZekeB wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 12:46 pm
Sugar Magnolia wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:56 am
Any increase yesterday is most likely a result of something that happened weeks ago anyway. You pay the gas price at the pump that the gas was purchased at a month ago (or whatever the time line is), not based on anything that happens today. Summer blends, Memorial Day, all sorts of things make it fluctuate.
They use spot pricing where I live. It doesn't matter how much the gas in the underground tanks cost them, they price it daily based on the spot price of delivered fuel for that day. The amusing thing about pricing in my little burg is the fact that there are six gas stations and they all charge the exact same price. When one station changes up or down, all others follow suit within an hour. There is no collusion. :liar:
So the station on the right side of the road that has the stop light coming out of the parking lot gets the business? I filled up close to the interstate for $2.03 but the station I passed out on the much-less-travelled road had it for $2.47. I've seen it with as much as an 80 cent difference at stations within 2 miles of each other.

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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#62

Post by Somerset » Sun Jun 23, 2019 1:44 pm

tek wrote:
Sat Jun 22, 2019 5:30 am
Somerset wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:02 pm
How much of the US overall/Eastern US gasoline refining capacity does this refinery represent?
https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/refineryc ... table1.pdf

I'm not exactly sure how to read this report, but it looks like about 1/4 of the total northeast refining capacity..
Thanks tek and RC. It looks like this shouldn't significantly affect capacity or gasoline prices.

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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#63

Post by Reality Check » Sun Jun 23, 2019 6:34 pm

The location of the refineries doesn't tell the entire story on the supplies of gasoline and diesel fuel. There are some major product pipelines running from the Gulf Coast and Midwestern states where more refining capacity is located to the mid-Atlantic and eastern states.

https://pipeline101.org/Where-Are-Pipelines-Located
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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#64

Post by kate520 » Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:53 pm

Gracias RC et al. There’s Fogbow Expertise for almost every occasion. :bighug:
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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#65

Post by Reality Check » Mon Jun 24, 2019 10:13 am

kate520 wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:53 pm
Gracias RC et al. There’s Fogbow Expertise for almost every occasion. :bighug:
Glad to contribute my little bit.

I finally found an article that explained in what unit the the fire started. It was on Reuters:

Unit at Philadelphia refinery completely destroyed in fire: sources
(Reuters) - The alkylation unit involved in a massive fire on Friday at Philadelphia Energy Solutions Inc’s oil refinery has been completely destroyed, which will hamper the supply of gasoline from the U.S. East Coast’s largest refinery, sources familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

A source familiar with plant operations said one explosion occurred at the 30,000 bpd alkylation unit that uses hydrofluoric acid (HF), one of the deadliest chemicals in the refining business and a source of controversy for its use to make high-octane gasoline at refineries located in densely populated areas.

Hydrofluoric acid can form a toxic cloud at room temperature, with exposure leading to severe health problems and even death.

PES confirmed the fire at the alkylation unit has been extinguished and that the company and a third party are monitoring the air quality insider the facility each hour.
An HF Alkylation unit is one of the most dangerous units in any refinery. It uses hydrofluoric acid (the stuff that eats through glass) as a catalyst and in layman's terms converts butane into gasoline. The acid is not consumed but just keeps circulating around in the unit. Apparently there was no HF acid released from anything I have read. Most or all of these HF Alky units now are equipped with acid de-inventory systems that upon an emergency can remove all the acid from the unit in case of a leak or fire.

The 30,000 bpd rating on the HF Alky unit probably represents about 20% of the gasoline production in this refinery. The FCC (fluid catalytic cracker) and catalytic reformers are the big gasoline producers. I expect they can be restarted in days or a week or two if the damage was confined to the HF Alky unit.

This repair could cost several hundred million dollars. HF Alky units are expensive because everything uses high priced alloys like monel.
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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#66

Post by Sam the Centipede » Mon Jun 24, 2019 10:24 am

Wow, hydrofluoric acid! My chemistry knowledge is very patchy now but I vividly remember learning in high school classes about just how vicious hydrofluoric acid is, how it must be handled with extreme care.

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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#67

Post by Somerset » Mon Jun 24, 2019 12:30 pm

I take apart semiconductors for a living, and HF is a workhorse in failure analysis labs. I used to be a lot more careless, and back in the day I got an HF burn on the back of my hand. I was used to fuming nitric, sulfuric, 30% H2O2, etc., burns, which were "surface" burns and healed in a few days. The HF burn was more like a deep ulcer and it took a few weeks to heal. I'm a lot more careful now ;)

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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#68

Post by Reality Check » Mon Jun 24, 2019 12:49 pm

Yes, HF acid burns are no joke. it will burn right through to the bone if not neutralized. All of the refineries with HF Alky units work with local hospitals to ensure they have medical personnel trained in treating HF acid burns and have neutralization kits on hand. When you enter the unit the minimum protective clothing includes a face shield, acid resistant gloves, coveralls and boots. When you leave all the clothing is neutralized in an alkaline bath. If you are doing work that might cause even a small amount acid to be released the required clothing is something like a space suit with supplied breathing air. Thankfully I never had to wear that.
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Re: Another Industrial Disaster - Tragedy

#69

Post by Reality Check » Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:15 pm

Appears that PES used the fire as an excuse to pull the plug on the refinery and put it up for sale.

https://whyy.org/articles/analysts-say- ... ing-buyer/
More than 1,000 people will be out of work once Philadelphia Energy Solutions’ refinery closes its doors this month. The closure comes in the wake of an explosion and fire that destroyed a crucial part of the plant. But despite pleas from the union, and comments from former Congressman Bob Brady, who told Plan Philly he thought the plant was “almost too big to fail,” industry analysts say finding a buyer who will keep it as a refinery will be next to impossible.

“This facility was significantly less sophisticated than the other East Coast refineries,” said Phil Verleger, an economist and industry consultant. “It could barely hang on in a strong market. Once the export ban was gone, it couldn’t survive.”

When the shuttered Sunoco refinery was revived in 2012 with the help of Brady, the Obama Administration and state grants, its new owner The Carlyle Group took advantage of cheap North Dakota crude oil traveling to Philadelphia by rail. One reason the Bakken crude was so cheap, Verleger said, is because an export ban meant producers couldn’t fetch a better price overseas. When that was lifted, he said, the PES refinery’s days were numbered.

PES filed for bankruptcy in early 2018, citing the rising costs of the Renewable Fuel Standard, a program that forces refiners that don’t blend ethanol to buy credits on the open market.
...
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