The Pressure Vessel Explosion at Bayer Chemical Plant

Course Number: H-2007
Credit: 2 PDH
Subject Matter Expert: Edward P. Brunet, Jr., P.E.
Type: Type: Both the traditional text-based course and the interactive version will be available to you.
Price: $59.90 Purchase using Reward Tokens. Details
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Overview

In The Pressure Vessel Explosion at Bayer Chemical Plant, you'll learn ...

  • An overview of the methomyl production process used at the Bayer facility in Industry, WV
  • What caused the explosion in the Methomyl unit’s residue treater vessel
  • How decisions and assumptions made years earlier during the initial design and the HAZOP contributed to the incident
  • How an overemphasis on meeting deadlines compromised the safety of the operation

Overview

PDHengineer Course Preview

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Credit: 2 PDH

Length: 41 pages



PDHengineer Interactive Course Preview

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On August 28, 2008, an explosion occurred in a 4,500-gallon pressure vessel at the Bayer CropScience (Bayer) facility in Institute, West Virginia. The blast killed two (2) workers and came dangerously close to damaging a tank of methyl isocyanate (MIC), the same chemical that killed thousands of people in a 1984 leak at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India.

The Bayer facility in Institute, WV manufactures Larvin, which is a pesticide and ovicide used to control insect larvae. One of the components of Larvin is methomyl, a white, crystalline solid that smells like sulphur.

The Methomyl unit had been in one of its periodic shutdowns and Bayer took the opportunity to replace the residue treater tank and install a new control system. As the plant proceeded with restarting the unit, a variety of problems emerged and solvent was being used at a rapid rate; it became increasingly important to restart the residue treater and initiate solvent recovery.

As the unit moved towards a full restart - beginning methomyl synthesis and crystallization - the operators failed to pre-fill the residue treater vessel with solvent or pre-heat it to the minimum operating temperature, as required by the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). The result was a runaway decomposition reaction of methomyl that overwhelmed the emergency vent system.

Suspecting a blockage in the vent line, the board operator sent two outside operators to check the system. An explosion occurred as they approached. One died at the scene, the other died 41 days later in a hospital burn unit.

In this course, we’ll review the causes of the explosion at the Bayer CropScience (Bayer) facility in Institute, West Virginia, starting with the initial system design through to the day of the explosion many years later. The causes were many, as were the potential opportunities along the way for engineers, operators, managers and others to avert it. We’ll review the lessons learned from the incident, as well as the ethical implications that you can apply in your professional practice on a daily basis.

Specific Knowledge or Skill Obtained

This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • Chemicals manufactured at the Institute, WV facility
  • How Bayer’s organizational structure contributed to the accident
  • Residue treater replacement and modifications made prior to the explosion
  • Requirements for safe restart and operation of the residue treater
  • Implications of the new DCS system on the explosion
  • Why the safety relief system was not sized for the full capacity of a runaway decomposition reaction of methomyl
  • Deficiencies in the PHA process and the SOP
  • How the operators’ failure to follow the SOP contributed to the explosion
  • Equipment problems on the day of the accident that should have caused the restart to be delayed
  • Your ethical responsibility to safeguard the safety, health and welfare of the public and your coworkers
  • Lessons learned from the critical errors made at the Institute, WV facility

Certificate of Completion

You will be able to immediately print a certificate of completion after passing a multiple-choice quiz consisting of 10 questions. PDH credits are not awarded until the course is completed and quiz is passed.

Board Acceptance
This course is applicable to professional engineers in:
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More Details

PDHengineer Course Preview

Preview a portion of this course before purchasing it.

Credit: 2 PDH

Length: 41 pages



PDHengineer Interactive Course Preview

Preview a portion of the interactive version of the course, designed to provide a multi-media learning experience that you complete at your computer.

You may view either or both versions when you purchase this course

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