Gaps in safety management led to an explosion in 2016 that made an Enterprise Products facility for natural gas processing in Pascagoula, Mississippi, inactive for six months, said the American Chemical Safety Council in a Wednesday report.

The explosion on 27 June 2016 took place after the solder aluminum heat exchanger of the installation failed due to thermal fatigue, according to the board in the report. Thermal fatigue is repeated stress on metal heating and cooling over time.

No injuries were reported by the blast.

Enterprise acquired full ownership of the Pascagoula plant in March 2016. Prior to that change, Enterprise was a minority partner and BP Plc had a majority share and ran the factory.

"Several gaps in the safety management of the soldered aluminum heat exchangers in the Pascagoula gasworks reveal shortcomings in the assessment of hazards, management of changes and mechanical integrity programs at the site", according to the board in his report.

A spokesman for BP said the company had no comment because the factory was owned by Enterprise.

Spokesperson Rick Rainey said in an e-mail that Enterprise would consider the findings and recommendations of the CSB, as well as findings resulting from our own investigations to improve the security system of the company.

"Through collaboration with universities, trade organizations and manufacturers, Enterprise is proactively working on independent research into the safe operation of soldered aluminum heat exchangers (BAHXs)," said Rainey. "We believe that these partnerships will lead to improved design, better functioning and safety of BAHXs."

CSB also said the methods chosen to assess possible damage from thermal fatigue to the heat exchanger did not recognize accumulating damage during years of operation.

The board said the standards for assessing and repairing damage for comparable heat exchangers varied from location to location and from company to company, and the industry could benefit from better communication of safety practices.

The board advised the American Petroleum Institute and the GPA Midstream Association to make information and technical bulletins on safety practices and lessons to be learned from the explosion.

The CSB has no regulatory or enforcement authority and is charged with determining the root causes of fires and explosions at US chemical plants and making recommendations for improvement to the industry.

Heat exchangers transfer heat to and from chemicals when needed as they are processed in refineries and chemical plants.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba Edited by Susan Thomas, Paul Simao and David Gregorio)


Do you want to stay informed?

Receive the latest news about insurance
sent directly to your inbox.