Severity
Incident
Leak
Yes
Ignition
Yes

A fire occurred in a hydrogen storage facility. The fire was reported by an employee who saw the fire start after he had aligned valves at the hydrogen storage facility in preparation for putting the hydrogen injection system into service. The employee escaped injury because he was wearing fire-retardant protective clothing and was able to quickly scale a 7-foot-high fence enclosing the hydrogen area. The local fire brigade was dispatched and offsite fire fighting assistance was requested. Upon reaching the scene, the local fire department reported seeing a large hydrogen-fueled fire in the vicinity of the hydrogen tube trailer unit. The heat of the fire potentially endangered the nearby hydrogen storage tanks. The onsite fire department, with offsite fire fighting support, fought the fire until the hydrogen supply was exhausted and the fire was declared out approximately six hours later.

The company identified the root cause as organizational and programmatic deficiencies that resulted in multiple component failures. The hydrogen control panel and associated equipment are vendor-supplied and maintained. The licensee determined that the vendor maintenance program and oversight of that program were inadequate. In addition, the site identified recurring problems with the system that had not been effectively resolved.

Analysis
An investigative committee performed a special inspection of the facility. The results of the inspection determined that the company’s overall response to the event was acceptable. The company and offsite support took appropriate actions to control the fire until the hydrogen burned out. The special investigation also determined that the company’s subsequent event investigation was systematic and comprehensive.

The company identified the lack of effective maintenance as a root cause of the hydrogen fire event at the facility. Three valves failed, starting the fire. According to the root cause evaluation, all of the failures were due to an inadequate preventive maintenance program by the hydrogen system vendor and inadequate system monitoring and management oversight by the facility.

Incident Date
Jan 24, 1999
Setting
Equipment
  • Hydrogen Storage Equipment
  • Vessel
  • Piping/Fittings/Valves
  • Valve
Damage and Injuries
When Incident Discovered
Lessons Learned

As demonstrated by the fire discussed above, lack of adequate maintenance, system monitoring and oversight of maintenance of these facilities can contribute to the ignition of a fire that is difficult to extinguish and poses an extreme danger to fire fighting personnel. Properly maintaining, monitoring and overseeing of hydrogen storage facility equipment can minimize the risk of fire or explosion.

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