Protecting Petrochemical PlantsDue to their hazardous nature, petrochemical and gas processing facilities have always been vulnerable to the danger of fire, and the huge potential social, political, financial and ecological impacts of a major disaster mean that safety concerns are always a prime consideration.
Because a blaze in a petrochemical or gas processing facility can create a very sudden rise in temperature levels, the potential for the fire to spread is considerable. The effects of this can be devastating, as demonstrated by a major blaze at the UK’s Buncefield Oil Storage Terminal in 2005. The initial stage of the incident triggered a series of subsequent blasts that eventually engulfed 20 large storage tanks. The blasts were audible up to 200 kilometres away and the incident left 244 people requiring medical aid.
One of the most significant dangers faced by oil, petrochemical and gas facilities is the risk of a ‘jet’ or ‘spray’ fire. A jet fire usually involves a forceful flame, created by highly combustible fuel that is released in a particular direction as a result of a leak or other breach in the container that houses the fuel. This situation can create particularly intense levels of localised heat, plus exaggerated degrees of heat flux and turbulence, and it is far more capable of eroding fire protection measures, damaging structural steelwork and rupturing other vessels and pipe work than a non-hydrocarbon blaze.
Detail at: http://www.firesafetysearch.com/news/protecting-petrochemical-plants/