CUI Major Incident# 10: DOW chemical Plant

cui incidents Sep 10, 2020

Data and place of incident:

On March 13, 2008, the explosion was occurred at a Dow’s LHC plant, located at Freeport, TX USA.

Summary of the incident:

The carbon steel hydrocarbon of 8 inch, failed. The incident began with the detection of small pinhole leak. When the line was being isolated and de-pressurized, it failed disastrously. This disastrous line rupture fortunately produced such explosive forces which made the line bent in two locations and sealed itself which avoided the major release.

Root cause:

  • The main cause of pipe leak was corrosion under the insulation.
  • The piping of carbon steel regeneration line which led to the ethylene plant cracked gas dryer was 30 years old.
  • Non-corrosive hydrocarbon cracked gas was the material in the line.
  • The piping alternates three conditions because of the regeneration service. The failure location was where the operating temperature caused continuous or frequent condensations and re-evaporations of atmospheric moistures.

Financial loss to Freedom Industry:

The total loss of the plant was $18.67 million by the incident which included loss of work days of 64 days.

Injury and Fatality:

No injury and fatality was reported in the incident.

Environmental Impact of Incident:

No environmental impact was reported in the incident.

Non-Compliance of Safety Guidelines and Reliability Practices:

  • The previous inspection conducted in 2004 was performed according to API 570 was not satisfied and did not inspected correctly.
  • The inspection at the elbow was the most critical point for inspection and a insulation small plug at the elbow was removed for this reason. The insufficient insulation was removed purposely to permit simple external inspection.

Recommendations to Avoid Corrosion:

  • The particular pipe location is susceptible to corrosion under insulation. The pipeline location should be replaced by thicker wall pipes
  • Alternative metallurgy should be used to avoid such conditions.
  • Periodically inspection for corrosion under insulation thoroughly should be conducted.

Links to Photos and videos of incidents:

  1. Sampaio, A.L.M.V. Leite. “More Lesson ReLearned from Corrosion Under Insulation,” 13 Mar. 2018. http://www.penderlo.com/doc/Dow_CUI.pdf.





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