Varanus Island Explosion 3rd June 2008
- Explosion is rumoured to be a corroded pipe that ruptured.
- West Australian police repeatedly warned the operator of the Varanus Island gas plant that it
needed a contingency plan to ensure it could operate in the event of a disaster (US-based
Apache Energy had first been warned in 1993)
Supplies to mines and industry in the Pilbara region (the heartland of Australian iron ore
mining) fell by 45 per cent.
Supply disruption was exacerbated by an inability to start alternative forms of power
WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimates the crisis will have cost the state $6.7
Apache Energy reportedly responded to one of the issues raised - the need to have spare
parts available - by "How can we justify having a $8 million component sitting on the shelf ?"
Bhopal - Union Carbide - December 1984
A waste land, plant was never returned to operation.
It has not been de-commissioned or dismantled.
Death toll estimates range between 3,000 to 15,000.
Piper Alpha - Occidental - July 1988
Breakdown in maintenance procedures
Permit to work system routinely not followed, ie documents not returned at end of shift
Failure of temporary flange, explosion - which destroys platform control room
Other platforms assume Piper Alpha will be able to put out fire and continue to pump gas into Piper Alpha (Piper Alpha mother platform to surrounding platforms)
Crew not adequately trained for explosion, waited in crew module for helicopter rescue (Note Helicopters will NOT fly into a fire - only way off should have been life boats)
No internal escape routes for crew, crew trapped in accommodation module
167 out of the 229 people on board were killed
Complete loss of platform (57,000 tonnes of steel)
Occidental no longer operates oil platforms
Major changes to how all platforms are operated
Flixborough - Nypro (UK) - June 1974
Two months prior to the explosion, a crack was discovered in the number 5 reactor. It was decided to install a temporary 50 cm (20 inch) diameter pipe to bypass the leaking reactor to allow continued operation of the plant while repairs were made.
Temporary pipe ruptures on a weekend.
Gas escapes and is ignited causing an explosion
Twenty Eight fatalities, Eighteen in the control room as a result of the windows shattering and the collapse of the roof. No one escaped from the control room. If a weekday up to 500 employees would have been on site.
The fires burned for several days and after ten days those that still raged were hampering the rescue work.
Plant completely destroyed.
Around 1,800 buildings within a 1.6 kilometer (1 mile) radius of the site were damaged beyond repair.