UK Fuel Depot Explosions

Reports have been coming in about an enormous explosion at a fuel depot in Hemel Hempstead, north of London:

Three large explosions have rocked a fuel depot near Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire shooting flames hundreds of feet into the sky.

The Buncefield depot is a major distribution terminal operated by Total and part-owned by Texaco, storing oil, petrol and well as kerosene which supplies Luton airport.

Being a risk engineer in the oil and gas business and all that, here’s my take on it: the root cause is a human error (most probably someone not following procedures) made during a non-routine operation (most probably maintenance). In short, somebody did something he was not supposed to when trying to fix something. Let’s see if I’m right.

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15 Responses to UK Fuel Depot Explosions

  1. mark says:

    Your’e right!
    Police are saying it’s an accident and people were doing maintenance at the time.
    Rumours of a plane flying extremely low over the area are just rumours and there’s no evidence to say otherwise.
    The boom woke up my mum and some friends i know heard it as well. I was waking up at the time and i have noisy neighbours so i’m not too sure if i actually heard the blast or not.
    I live in Dunstable which is about 10 miles away from Hemel Hempstead

  2. Etienne says:

    Well it happened at 6am. The shift changes at that time. So unlikely to be any maintenance activity going on?

    It was a cold night with a frost. Is it possible that a pipeline rupture caused a vapour leak that hung around (cold, no wind) until 6am when something caused a spark.

    Are there automatic processes that might switch in at regular intervals or at 6am each morning?

  3. wonkotsane says:

    According to the news on Kerrang Radio it was a random explosion and not thought to be suspicious.

  4. RichJ says:

    Hi,

    A number of us have create a wikinews article with a number of reference links which can be found here:

    http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Major_Explosions_at_UK_Oil_Depot

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  6. Rich says:

    “According to the news on Kerrang Radio” Not a source I’ve ever heard cited before.

    I’ll be able to listen soon as Santa is rumored to be bringing DAB to our household.

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  8. Remittance Man says:

    Although not involved with the oil and gas industry myself I must concur with Tim that the likely cause was something being done wrong, probably maintenance.

    That the time was 6am and shift change makes this more likely rather than less. Picture the scenario: Something breaks during night shift and needs fixing immediately (even if it’s only a temporary bodge job until the day shift arrives). The shift artisan is called out (on a cold weekend night, remember. Was it raining? Sod’s Law says it should on these occasions). He needs to fix the problem in the dark and cold. The shift super is on his back and it’s getting close to knock off time. He’s tired, pissed off, and wants to go home to bed. Hardly the optimium conditions under which to be playing with a welder, cutting torch or angle grinder near high octane fuel tanks. Sure the depot has all sorts of safety procedures etc, but under these circs can any of us put our hands on our hearts and say we wouldn’t cut corners?

    This may not be the precise sequence of events, but it is beleivable. I know; there but for the grace of God go I etc etc.

    The Remittance Man

    PS, somebody please tell Kerrang Radio that there is no such thing as a “random explosion”. To get an explosion you need to have several conditions just right and do several things just right. Beleive me; I have a couple of certificates in how to make things go bang and a government license that lets me do it.

  9. you know me says:

    One final point from Secret Dubai blog/Stop blaming the West ….Timmy boy

    Everyone knows that the invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. Moreover the invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public … a formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent Iraqi people.

    USA and britan have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people, and call it ‘bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East’

    Figure I come to you since you like hiding behind lies that what your kinds well……

  10. Tim Newman says:

    One final point from Secret Dubai blog/Stop blaming the West ….Timmy boy

    Sorry for not responding, old chap. After your previous comment:

    I am guessing by your name you are from Jewish origin so your views are racist since Israel is a racist country and most Jews have the opinion that all humans that are not Jewish have not value.

    I decided I did not wish to communicate with you any further. Now, if you don’t mind, fuck off and don’t come back.

  11. i gentle says:

    So, a tank farm has exploded, half of it anyway. No one killed. Humanity 1 Technology 0. Bring back the bike and horse.

  12. ab says:

    wait till all the information is in before saying what it is.

    Remember the “maintenance line” following 7/7.

    Today is 12/12

  13. is says:

    hwo to avoid explosions at fuel depot?

  14. Andrew M says:

    I remember this day well as i was staying in one of the Hotels in Hemel Hempstead at the time-pretty scary stuff actually!

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