A fatal accident took place at an onshore processing facility for slop water from the offshore petroleum industry.

Drilling fluids, or mud, are typically oil-water emulsions consisting of base oil (continuous phase), water (dispersed phase), and emulsifying agents. Used drilling mud, or slop, is mud enriched with water and rock cuttings from drilling --- typically 60-80% water, 10-20% emulated base oil, and 10-20% rock cuttings. The used drilling fluids are collected in slop tanks on oil platforms and later shipped to onshore facilities for further processing.

On the day of the accident, two operators were trying to remove the lid from a manhole on top of a 1600-cubic meter storage tank. However, they were not able to unscrew the rusted bolts holding the lid in place, and view more

Hydrogen was released near the ground when the vent line from a 13,000-gallon liquid hydrogen storage vessel suffered damage from unusually high winds. The toppled vent line did not shear or tear, but sustained a kink that restricted hydrogen flow and created a back pressure on the vessel relief system.

Repair efforts were hampered by the potential for cold hydrogen gas, a flammability hazard, in the work area. Shut off or redirection of the hydrogen was not possible, and variable breezes made set up of safe zones uncertain. A protocol had not been prepared for this scenario.


A steel tube with inner diameter of 6 mm and 10 m length was filled with radiolysis gas (stoichiometric H2-O2 mixture) at 70 bar for boiling water reactor simulations. Via a pneumatic valve, a venting line with similar cross-section and 2 m length, filled with atmospheric air, was connected.

For venting the tube, the valve was opened (fast) and an explosion occurred.

Explanation: Due to diffusion ignition in the leading shock, a flame flashed back into the pre-mixed reservoir and induced a detonation there. The tube system and involved measurement technique was destroyed. For safety reasons, the whole installation was set up in a protective container so that no person or other equipment was threatened.

A pressure relief device (frangible burst disk) on one of a hydrogen delivery tube trailer's 26 tubes failed prematurely and released hydrogen while filling a hydrogen storage tank at a government facility (see Attachment 1). Prior to the filling process, all procedures and safety checks, including connection to the facility's regulator/distribution control system with leak checking and follow-up verification of leak checking by facility personnel, were completed (see Attachment 2 for more details). During the filling process, a person walking near the facility heard the noise of escaping gas that included occasional popping sounds typical of bursts of gas release. Facility personnel were alerted and the tube trailer vendor's incident response team was dispatched to the view more

Two scientists were changing hydrogen gas cylinders in an analytical laboratory. They were in the process of removing the cylinder cap from the new cylinder when a loud hissing noise occurred and they quickly realized that the tank was leaking. After making a quick attempt to shut off the tank, which was not possible, they left the lab and notified their supervisor.

After checking that everyone was out of the lab, the supervisor paged all staff in the vicinity to immediately evacuate to the staging area. Facility management and ES&H management were notified about the situation, and they contacted the local fire department to respond to the site in case the venting gas was ignited.

The first responders arrived quickly and spoke with facility management and the site view more

In early afternoon, a northbound tractor-semitrailer with horizontally mounted tubes filled with compressed hydrogen at approximately 2400 psi (166 bar) was struck by a northbound pickup truck that veered into the semitrailer's right rear axle. According to witnesses, the tractor-semitrailer then went out of control and left the roadway, coming to rest approximately 300 feet (91 meters) from the point of impact. As a result of rotational torque and impact, the end of one tube was sheared off at the bulkhead and left the tube bundle. During the process, some of the tubes, valves, piping, and fittings at the rear of the semitrailer were damaged and released hydrogen. The hydrogen ignited and burned the rear of the semitrailer. In the meantime, the pickup truck had also run off the view more

A leaking liquid hydrogen cryogenic pump shaft during the process of filling a gaseous tube delivery trailer to 2400 psi at a liquid hydrogen transfilling location caused a series of explosions and a fire. After approximately 30 minutes of filling, the operator heard a single loud explosion and then saw flames and ripples from heat generation near the ground in the hydrogen fill area. The operator quickly actuated the emergency alarm system that shut down the cryogenic pump and closed the air-actuated valves on the cryogenic pump supply line. After this shutdown, three smaller explosions were heard as well as the sound of gas releasing from a safety relief valve. The fire department was called to the scene and participated in the final shutdown of the hydrogen system as the fire was view more

An explosion occurred at a chemical plant in an analysis room containing various analyzer instruments, including a gas chromatograph supplied with hydrogen. A contract operator was performing work to install a new vent line to a benzene analyzer that was part of a group of CO2 analyzers, but separate and unrelated to the gas chromatograph. During the process of this work, a plant supervisor accompanying the contract operator doing the work had an indication of flammable gas present on a portable detector. This was in conflict with the fixed gas detector in the analysis room that was indicating that no flammable gas was present. As a precaution, the plant supervisor immediately cut off the hydrogen supply and, along with the contract operator, began the normal task of determining if view more

A refinery hydrocracker effluent pipe section ruptured and released a mixture of gases, including hydrogen, which instantly ignited on contact with the air, causing an explosion and a fire. Excessive high temperature, likely in excess of 1400°F (760°C), initiated in one of the reactor beds spread to adjacent beds and raised the temperature and pressure of the effluent piping to the point where it failed. An operator who was checking a field temperature panel at the base of the reactor and trying to diagnose the high-temperature problem was killed. A total of 46 other plant personnel were injured and 13 of these were taken to local hospitals, treated, and released. There were no reported injuries to the public.

Property damage included an 18-inch (46-centimeter) long tear in the view more

A hydrogen alarm sounded when hydrogen buildup occurred in an unmanned switching room containing backup lead acid batteries after the exhaust ventilation fans failed to start at the 1% hydrogen trigger level. Failure of the ventilation fans to vent the normal off-gassing hydrogen from the lead acid batteries resulted in the hydrogen concentration in the room increasing to 2%, which triggered the hydrogen alarm. The alarm was automatically sent to an alarm-monitoring company that alerted the local fire department as well as company personnel of the condition. The fire department was dispatched to the scene and, along with company personnel, provided secondary ventilation to lower the hydrogen concentration to normal conditions. Hydrogen leakage from lead acid batteries is normal, and view more


  • = 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
4/26/2010 12/31/1969     3/17/1999
Piping/Valves 4/4/2002
2/7/2009 1/24/1999


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


Hydrogen Cooled Generator       12/31/1969
Other (floor drain, lab
anaerobic chamber,
heated glassware,
test chamber,
gaseous hydrogen
composite cylinder,
delivery truck)
  • = No Ignition
  • = Explosion
  • = Fire