CUI Major Incident# 7: Donges Refinery Fuel Oil Spill

cui incidents Sep 02, 2020

Date and Place of the Incident:

On March 16, 2008, a fuel oil spill occurred during the loading of a vessel at Donges Refinery, Loire-Atlantique, France.

Summary of the Incident:

  1. During the loading of an oil tanker, 478 tonnes of cargo fuel oil spilled due to a leak from a corroded pipe line.
  2. The leak continued for 5 hours and hydrocarbon pellets were found to settle in the Loire River estuary.
  3. A ban for marine activities was implemented due to pollution and possible contamination of the coastal zone.

Root Cause of the Incident:

  1. Corrosion under insulation was the root cause of the incident.
  2. A longitudinal crack was formed in the pipe due to corrosion underneath the thermal insulator lining.
  3. Water infiltrated the fuel pipe insulation from an adjacent perforated pipe and caused the steel to corrode.

Financial Loss to Freedom Industries:

A fine of €300,000 was issued on Total Raffinage Marketing, a Total group subsidiary responsible for Donges Refinery for two accounts of negligence in terms or risk prevention.

Environmental Impact of the Incident:

Ecological damage was evident as fishing and marine culture activities were temporarily stopped due to pollution. Domestic birds were also oiled during the spillage. Hydrocarbon pellets were recovered on surrounding beaches and solidified oil were reported on the agricultural grounds.

Fatality or injury due to the Incident:

No injuries or fatalities were recorded during the time of the incident.

Non-Compliance of Safety Guidelines and Reliability Practices:

  1. Lack of proper maintenance and inspection for the fuel pipeline.
  2. Continued use of a defective insulation even if a program was implemented for its replacement.
  3. No written procedures or proper documentation of insulation replacement was made by the company.
  4. Report of water leaks were received but no hazard analysis was conducted on the pipelines.

Recommendations to Avoid Corrosion:

  1. Proper monitoring of corrosion in sensitive points such as (thermal insulation and supporting braces) and maintenance of pipe networks.
  2. Conduct visual inspections and thickness controls at the level of special network points.
  3. Set up active controls for quick detection of corrosion or any structural defect.
  4. Realignment of the water pipe to avoid contact with the thermally insulated pipes.

Links to the photos/videos:

The websites below provide full access to the incident report, useful insights, and related images.




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