Rust Never Sleeps
Pipe failure cited in refinery fire.
FROM INDUSTRIAL FIRE WORLD, VOLUME 24, NO. 6
Fire officials blame a May 2009 fire that destroyed part of Sunoco's Marcus Hook refinery on a rusty 10-inch pipe that ruptured and caused a catastrophic natural gas leak.
Separate investigations by the company and the Delaware State Fire Marshal determined that pipe failure caused the fire in the refinery's ethylene unit.
"The Delaware State Fire Marshal's investigation indicates - and our own internal investigation agrees - that a pipe failure resulted in the release of combustible ethylene unit feed gas, which caught fire," said Thomas Golembeski, Sunoco's spokesperson.
The pipe failure was caused by external corrosion on the bottom of the pipe, Golembeski said. The evidence shows that localized corrosion stemmed from moisture trapped between the pipe and a loose steel sleeve on which the pipe rested.
The corrosion, which occurred over many years, was limited to the space between the sleeve and the pipe. The rest of the pipe showed no indication of corrosion.
"Extensive metallurgical testing and analysis of the damaged section of pipe confirms corrosion as the cause of the failure," Golembeski said.