September 25, 2017 | Mark Paradies

Monday Accidents & Lessons Learned: ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Refinery Isobutane Release and Fire

On November 22, 2016, an isobutane release and fire seriously injured four workers in the sulfuric acid alkylation unit at the ExxonMobil Refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (“Baton Rouge refinery”). During removal of an inoperable gearbox on a plug valve, the operator performing this activity removed critical
bolts securing the pressure-retaining component of the valve known as the top-cap. When the operator then attempted to open the plug valve with a pipe wrench, the valve came apart and released isobutane into the unit, forming a flammable vapor cloud. The isobutane reached an ignition source within 30 seconds of the release, causing a fire and severely burning four workers who were unable to exit the vapor cloud before it ignited.

Read key lessons learned from this incident here.

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