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Pipe corrosion caused explosion and fire at Regina refinery: investigators

A tear measuring almost 18 cm long triggered the initial explosion and subsequent smaller ones.


August 17, 2012
by The Canadian Press

REGINA—Fire inspectors say corrosion in a single pipe was behind an explosion and fire at the Co-op refinery in Regina last fall.

Their report said a tear measuring almost 18 centimetres long triggered the initial explosion and subsequent smaller ones.

They said the problem was in a diesel fuel processing area and had been getting worse since 2008 when practices at the plant changed.

Co-op officials said tests hadn’t shown any issues with the pipe.

“In short, something was missed,” Co-op CEO Scott Banda said after the report was released.

Seven contract employees that were working on a $2-billion upgrade and expansion were sent to hospital and two more were treated for burns at the plant.

Another 1,400 people had to leave the refinery after the blast that triggered a huge fireball that could be seen all over the city.

Banda said some corrosion was detected in 2010, but he said all of that pipe was replaced before the blast.

Protocols were followed, he said, noting that 94,000 spots are checked on a routing basis.

“Now is that enough, is that too many? I don’t know, but clearly they didn’t work,” he said.

Co-op said 80% of the piping in the troubled area has been replaced since the fire and 19 other measures have been taken to increase testing.

The plant had another fire on a much smaller scale in May when an overheated crude oil pump ignited. There were no injuries.

©The Canadian Press