Oil Refinery Explosion Rocks Anacortes Washington

By ThinkReliability Staff

Early this morning (Friday, April 2nd, 2010), an explosion at an oil refinery rocked the town of Anacortes, Washington.  The cause of the explosion is not yet known.  However, even with very little information a root cause analysis of the event can be started.  It is extremely helpful to gather information regarding an incident as soon as possible after it occurs.  More information can always be added as the investigation continues.

In this case, the date and approximate time are known.  It’s not clear if there was anything different or unusual at the refinery this morning, so we’ll put a question mark here for now.  Detailed information regarding the exact location of the incident has been released, so we can record that the explosion occurred in an Anacortes, Washington oil refinery, at the catalytic reformer hydrotreater unit while maintenance work was being performed.

We also know that some of the company’s goals have been impacted.  One worker was killed, four workers were seriously injured, and three workers are missing.  These are all impacts to the safety goal.  Because of the severe impact to the safety goal and the loss of human life, the other goals are far less important.  However, we can record the impacts for assistance in performing the analysis.

Reports of black smoke in the area indicate pollution which is an impact to the environmental goal.  There are reports of some damage to nearby buildings, which could be considered an impact to the customer service goal.  The damage to the plant, and possible delay in production as a result, are impacts to the production/schedule and property goals.  Additionally, the emergency response is an impact to the labor goal.

The costs resulting from the impacts to the goals and the frequency of events such as these are not immediately known.  This is information that can be filled in as the root cause analysis continues.   As more information is released regarding the incident, we can continue our investigation.