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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation P-77-034
Details
Synopsis: ON DECEMBER 7, 1976, A NATURAL GAS COMPRESSOR FAILED AND THEN EXPLODED AND BURNED AT AN EXXON GAS SYSTEM, INC., STATION NEAR ROBSTOWN, TEXAS. AN EMERGENCY SHUTDOWN SYSTEM WAS ACTIVATED, BUT FOUR AUTOMATED FIRE GATE VALVES DID NOT CLOSE. ANOTHER EMERGENCY CONTROL SYSTEM ALSO FAILED TO AUTOMATICALLY CLOSE THE SHUTOFF VALVES LEADING TO TWO OF THE FIVE COMPRESSORS IN THE STATION. A SECOND EXPLOSION OCCURRED WITHIN THE BURNING BUILDING. THE FIRE KILLED ONE PERSON, INJURED TWO PERSONS, AND DESTROYED THREE ENGINE-DRIVEN COMPRESSORS AND THE COMPRESSOR BUILDING.
Recommendation: REVIEW COMPRESSOR STATION ACCIDENTS TO DETERMINE IF THERE HAVE BEEN SIMILAR PROBLEMS WITH REMOTE-CONTROL SHUTDOWN DEVICES. IF THERE HAVE BEEN RELIABILITY PROBLEMS, MAKE A SURVEY TO DETERMINE THE OPTIMUM TIME BETWEEN INSPECTIONS AND AMEND 49 CFR 192.731(C) BY DECREASING THE TIME INTERVAL BETWEEN INSPECTION AND TESTING FROM THE CURRENT MINIMUM OF 1 YEAR TO REFLECT THESE FINDINGS.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Pipeline
Location: Robstown, TX, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA77MP005
Accident Reports:
Exxon Gas System, Inc., Natural Gas Explosion and Fire
Report #: PAR-77-03
Accident Date: 12/7/1976
Issue Date: 10/31/1977
Date Closed: 9/3/1985
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: RSPA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Remote Operated Valves

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: RSPA
Date: 9/3/1985
Response:

From: RSPA
To: NTSB
Date: 3/21/1983
Response: RSPA LETTER: INCIDENTS INVOLVING COMPRESSOR STATIONS ARE A COMPARATIVELY MINOR FRACTION OF ALL INCIDENTS REPORTED TO THE MTB. SINCE 1970, THE NUMBER OF INCIDENTS INVOLVING COMPRESSOR STATIONS HAS DECLINED BOTH IN ABSOLUTE AND IN RELATIVE TERMS. INCIDENTS INVOLVING VALVES AT COMPRESSOR STATIONS, HAVE ON THE AVERAGE, BEEN SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER SINCE 1976. THE MTB'S COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM HAS ALSO EMPHASIZED TO OPERATORS THE NEED TO MEET THE COMPRESSOR STATION BLOWDOWN REQUIREMENTS OF 49 CFR 192.167(A) AND TO INSURE THAT TORQUING PROCEDURES RECOMMENDED BY EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURERS ARE FOLLOWED.

From: NTSB
To: RSPA
Date: 1/22/1979
Response:

From: RSPA
To: NTSB
Date: 11/17/1978
Response: LETTER FROM MTB: MTB HAS INITIATED A STUDY OF ALL COMPRESSOR STATION INCIDENTS FOR 1975-76. PRESENT REPORT FORMS DO NOT SPECIFY REMOTE CONTROL PROBLEMS AT THESE STATIONS, EACH OPERATOR WILL BE CONTACTED TO DETERMINE EXACT CAUSE OF THE FAILURE. THE STUDY WILL BE COMPLETED IN DECEMBER 1978. FUTURE COMPRESSOR STATION FAILURES WILL BE OBSERVED FOR REMOTE-CONTROL PROBLEMS. IF A PROBLEM IS IDENTIFIED, RULEMAKING AS RECOMMENDED WILL TAKE PLACE.