Texas Oil Refinery Explosion

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Scott_J, Mar 24, 2005.

  1. Scott_J

    Scott_J Cinematographer

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    http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/03/24/plant.blast/index.html

    Kind of surprised there already wasn't a thread about this. My thoughts go out to all the victims and their families. My company actually does business with a tanker company whose vessels do use that port and, although I'm on vacation right now, I checked out our map with their latest known locations, and none appear to have been in the port at the time of the explosion.
     
  2. Travis Hedger

    Travis Hedger Supporting Actor

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    Why must there be one of these blowing up about the same time every year?
     
  3. Diallo B

    Diallo B Screenwriter

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    condolences to the families.

    and condolences to my wallet as well. a new reason for 3.00/gallon gas. sigh....
     
  4. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    [​IMG]

    (Money should be the least of anyone's concerns when it comes to lost life)

    J
     
  5. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    Not knowing why this particular explosion occured, I can only generalize at this point. Major factors include:

    1.) Age of of the U.S. refineries. We don't build new refineries anymore, and the ones we have vary greatly in the age of installed equipment.

    2.)Refining involves highly explosive materials which can amplify any equipment failure.

    3.)Refining is a continuous operation which does not lend itself to frequent preventative maintenance.

    4.) Especially during the winter freezing/expansion can have a great impact in speeding along failures.

    J
     
  6. Justin_S

    Justin_S Producer

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    Many years ago, a ship porting in Texas City caught fire and the resulting explosion caused the entire city to go up. The anchor from the ship is still in the spot it landed to this day. I pass through their all the time when visiting relatives.

    Anyway, while its nice to see this wasn't anywhere near as bad, its very unfortunate to hear about the ones killed.
     
  7. Mike Voigt

    Mike Voigt Supporting Actor

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    Justin_S, that was in 1947. A ship carrying ammonium nitrate blew up; a second ship also was involved, IIRC.
    ---

    There's been a few accidents since then - about 10-12 - that also cost lives. Not too long ago, Nova had a fire.

    We have to have chemical plants to survive; way too much in our lives depend on it (fuels) or make them less expensive (y'all go take a real close look at the items in the supermarket next time you - packaging-wise - and think how you would ship across the country without it). Most of the clothes we wear have a plastic component in them (nylon, orlon, spandex or similar rubbery materials in mixes, velcro... pretty much you name it). And so on.

    Problem with refineries is that we haven't built any in the US for years (I believe 15 years ago? something like that). Mostly because it is too expensive to build - by the time you buy the land, get all the permits (there's literally hundreds of those), build it (the US has some of the most expensive construction costs in the world, and equipment doesn't come cheap either), and run it (transportation costs of raw materials, personnel costs, maintenance materials, other stuff, plus the sheer cost of tracking everything that needs to be tracked).

    Not an easy proposition - not when you can get almost to equally skilled crews overseas at half to a tenth of the cost,raw materials right next door, etc. And the shareholders (which a lot of us are!) demand return on investment - preferably every quarter, when one of these plants takes 5-8 years to build here, and 3-4 years overseas, at a fraction of the total cost. Remember, it is almost always cheaper to ship the finished product, or a more valuable intermediate, than the raw material.

    That said, let me correct a few misapprehensions. One, the refinery is still operating; it was one unit that went up, the rest were apparently relatively unaffected. Believe me, they are checking those with a micro-comb. Two, if prices go up, it is only because some folks are taking advantage of the thought that the refinery is down for the count. Three, there have been some stories about contractors being involved in a turnaround having to do with this; AFAIK, they were next door, not in the plant that blew up.

    Justin Lane has some excellent points to keep in mind. And, yes, freezing IS an important issue - it happens but not very often, and thus is not something that people are really familiar with down here.
     

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