Unauthorized field modified equipment, drain lines cause control cabinet explosion

A sealed, unclassified electrical control enclosure, part of a listed and certified force-ventilated commercial hydrogen processing unit enclosure, exploded when the equipment manufacturer’s technician pressed the machine stop switch to complete factory commissioning procedure. The technician was forcefully hit by the flying metal panel holding the switch and sustained serious injuries requiring lengthy hospitalization and rehabilitation. Two were hospitalized. Two others were injured. Significant damage to the indoor facility also occurred.

Liquid Hydrogen Delivery Truck Offloading Valve Failure

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

A plume of hydrogen gas escaped from the offloading valve of a liquid hydrogen delivery truck while transporting hydrogen to a commercial facility. The plume ignited, resulting in a flash and concussion loud enough to be heard inside the nearby building and to set off the building’s seismic event detectors. A small amount of hydrogen gas continued to escape from the trailer tank and burn until a company specialist arrived to manually shut off a critical valve almost eight hours later.

Potential Un-reviewed Safety Question Due to Liquid Hydrogen Tank Installation

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

Installation of a 9000-gallon liquid hydrogen storage tank by a lessee at a building has not been evaluated for effect on the Safety Authorization Basis (SAB) of nearby facilities.

During review of an Emergency Management Hazard Assessment document, a reviewer questioned whether the SAB of nearby facilities had been reviewed for the effect of the installed 9000-gallon liquid hydrogen tank. Reviews by the facility management and facility safety personnel confirmed the evaluations have not been performed.

Swagelok Fittings Under High Pressure

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

A shop supervisor determined that a second shift would be necessary to complete some priority work on the spare hydrogen mitigation pump. The work scope for the shift would be dedicated to continued fabrication of designed tubing runs, repairs to existing tubing with known leaks and pressure testing of other various tubing runs. The shift craft complement would include three pipe fitters, one welder, one QC inspector and a shift supervisor.

Improper Line Break During Cleaning Run

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

An operator began preparations for a cleaning run, and was unaware that a maintenance task to calibrate a pressure transducer was scheduled to also take place that morning. The calibration required a break on a hydrogen line in order to install a Measuring and Test Equipment (M&TE) gage, which was used in the calibration. At the time the operator was informed of the calibration, the cleaning run procedure had been initiated but the actual cleaning had not yet begun.

Hydrogen Make Up Compressor Piping Hole

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

During inspection of a hydrogen make-up compressor, it was discovered that a 1/4” stainless steel screw and nut that mounted a temperature gauge to a stainless steel pipe was resting against the side of a schedule 160 high-pressure hydrogen pipe. Constant vibration of the process equipment had caused the bolt to rub a hole in the high-pressure suction piping, resulting in the release of make-up hydrogen. The pipe was out of sight, and the problem was identified by an employee who heard the whistling sound of escaping hydrogen. The compressor was taken offline and depressurized.

Deviation from Work Plan Results in Cutting Pipe Prior to Second Explosive Gas Test

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

A demolition technician noted an elevated combustible gas lower explosive limit (LEL) on a pipe that was being tested prior to cutting (No. 2 pipe). The No. 2 pipe was one of four pipes being tested. The other three pipes tested less than detectable for combustible hydrogen gas. Testing involves tapping the pipe and connecting the pipe to an Explosive Gas Detector via a tube. When an elevated LEL is identified, the pipe is allowed to vent and then retested prior to cutting. After tapping the No. 2 pipe, the work crew left the pipe open to vent and departed the area for the end of shift.

Failure of Rotameter Causes LFL Analyzer Low Sample Flow

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

A control room received a tank lower flammability limit (LFL) analyzer low sample flow alarm. The control room operator initiated the appropriate alarm response procedure and the facility entered limiting conditions of operation. At the time of the alarm, the facility was experiencing severe weather and the field operator was unable to investigate the alarm in the field. After the severe weather cleared, the field operator investigated the alarm and found the sample flow to be low and out-of-limits.

Hydrogen Storage Explosion

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

Hydrogen was stored in a plant in a 42 ½ ft diameter sphere made of 3/16 inch steel. The sphere was partitioned into two hemispheres by a neoprene diaphragm attached around the equator. Hydrogen was stored under the diaphragm, while the upper hemisphere contained air. An explosion-proof fan was situated in the upper portion of the sphere in order to provide a slight positive pressure on the top of the diaphragm.

Hydrogen Explosion at a Water Treatment Facility

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

A water treatment plant used an electrolytic process to generate sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) from sodium chloride (NaCl). The strategy of using liquid sodium hypochlorite for disinfecting water instead of gaseous chlorine (CL2) is popular because the liquid is generally safer and falls under fewer OSHA and EPA standards. The further idea of generating the liquid sodium hypochlorite on an as-needed basis and in limited quantities also has certain obvious safety advantages.

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Key:

  • = No Ignition
  • = Explosion
  • = Fire
Hydrogen Incident Summaries by Equipment and Primary Cause/Issue
Equipment / Cause Equipment Design or Selection Component Failure Operational Error Installation or Maintenance Inadequate Gas or Flame Detection Emergency Shutdown Response Other or Unknown
Hydrogen Gas Metal Cylinder or Regulator   3/31/2012
4/30/1995
2/6/2013
4/26/2010 12/31/1969     3/17/1999
11/1/2001
12/23/2003
Piping/Valves 4/4/2002
2/2/2008
5/11/1999
4/20/1987
11/4/1997
12/31/1969
8/19/1986
7/27/1991
12/19/2004
2/6/2008
10/3/2008
4/5/2006
5/1/2007
9/19/2007
10/31/1980
2/7/2009 1/24/1999
2/24/2006
6/8/1998
12/31/1969
2/7/2009

9/1/1992
10/31/1980

10/3/2008  
Tubing/Fittings/Hose   9/23/1999
8/2/2004
8/6/2008
9/19/2007
1/1/1982 9/30/2004
10/7/2005
  10/7/2005  
Compressor   10/5/2009
6/10/2007
8/21/2008
1/15/2019
    10/5/2009 8/21/2008  
Liquid Hydrogen Tank or Delivery Truck 4/27/1989 12/19/2004
1/19/2009
8/6/2004 12/31/1969   1/1/1974 12/17/2004
Pressure Relief Device 7/25/2013
5/4/2012
1/15/2002
1/08/2007
12/31/1969        
Instrument 1/15/2019 3/17/1999
12/31/1969
2/6/2013
    11/13/73    
Hydrogen Generation Equipment 7/27/1999     10/23/2001      
Vehicle or Lift Truck   7/21/2011         2/8/2011
12/9/2010
Fuel Dispenser   8/2/2004
5/1/2007
6/11/2007
9/19/2007
  2/24/2006
1/22/2009
     
Fuel Cell Stack            

5/3/2004
12/9/2010
2/8/2011

Hydrogen Cooled Generator       12/31/1969
2/7/2009
     
Other (floor drain, lab
anaerobic chamber,
heated glassware,
test chamber,
gaseous hydrogen
composite cylinder,
delivery truck)
  11/14/1994
7/21/2011
7/27/1999
6/28/2010
8/21/2008
12/31/1969
3/22/2018
    6/10/2019
  • = No Ignition
  • = Explosion
  • = Fire