04 September 2012

Shell charged for Bukom refinery fire

The Ministry of Manpower has filed a charge against Shell for alleged lapses in workplace safety that led to the massive fire at the Bukom refinery a year ago.
From the Straits Times 30 Sep 11
In this image, Pulau Hantu is the small wooded island above Pulau Bukom.

From a Straits Times article:
MOM said the fire was caused by the maintenance works of a pipeline that began a day before the accident.

In de-oiling the pipeline, the contractors, Mun Siong Engineering and Weishen Industrial Services, had used an "open draining" method that allowed flammable gases to accumulate in the air.

The pipeline was connected to a tank of naphtha, a volatile chemical liquid, and passed through a pumphouse where petroleum products were mixed.

While the pipeline was being drained, the contractors used metal trays to collect the naphtha flowing out of the tank.

MOM said the release of naphtha in this manner not only allowed volatile vapours to escape, but also led to an accumulation of static charges, which might have produced a spark to ignite the naphtha vapours.

The ministry said that "by failing to ensure the safety of its processes", and the site itself, Shell had breached its duties under the Workplace Safety and Health Act and would be charged.

Moreover, MOM said that Shell had failed to deploy portable gas monitors that would have alerted workers and safety staff to the presence of dangerous levels of flammable vapours.

The case is expected to be heard in the Subordinate Courts later this month, on Sept 25.

Under the Act, first-time offenders may be fined up to $500,000.

Responding to the MOM statement, a Shell spokesman said: "Safety is a top priority for Shell. We regret this incident and are applying the learnings to avoid such an occurrence in the future."

More media articles about the Bukom fire on wildsingapore news.

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