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13836 Chemical accident in South korea with butane
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General accident information
Class/Quality * * * * *
Year 1998
Summary During unattended unloading a hose ruptured and
Fire heated up 2 lpg tankvehciles causing bleve
And 84 casualties including firefighters
Country ROK
Chemicals Butane, Butane, Butane, Inflammable liquified gas n.o.s.,
Lpg, Lpg, Propane
Cause Human-failure
Fatalities/Injuries 1 / 83
Occurrences or events Bleve, Bleve, Blow-away, Burst/Rupture,
Emergency-stop, Explosion, Fire, Fire fighting/Emergency response,
Fireball, Fireball, Ignition, Mount/Connect,
Overheating, Overheating, Overheating, Pump-over,
Release, Switch, Unload
Full accident information 
download accident report Click here to view a document containing the full accident information

Date : 1998 0911

Around 1400 hours, the driver of a tankvehicle (road tanker), at the absence of the safety manager, connected both vapour and liquid truck hose with the butane tank of the tank lorry (truck) to unload butane to an underground storage tank. The underground storage tank had a capacity of 39.9E+3/kg and the internal capacity of the butane tankvehicle was 28.3/m3. Another nearby propane tankvehicle had a capacity of 32.5/m3.
The tank driver turned on the compressor switch and went into the office of the LPG filling station. He stayed inside the office to take a rest not attending the unloading operation. Meanwhile the unloading hose ruptured and when some one shouted that gas was leaking, the safety manager, who also was inside the office, operated the emergency shut-off device in a hurry and ran into the machinery room. When he was half on his way to close the valve with a big wheel flame spread into the machinery room from outside and he had to escape.
At 1425 hours, a large fireball arose from the filling station and a few minutes later, another consequential BLEVE occurred on the same site. More than 20/m pool and jet fire attacked both tankvehicles for about 10/minutes. The first BLEVE from propane tankvehicle happened and several firemen and lots of bystanders were enveloped by the flames and seriously injured. Next butane BLEVE made the tank of the butane tankvehicle blew away over more than 70/m away like a missile rocket and about 100/m diameter fireball lasted 10/seconds.
Thousands of people fled from their homes when the fire rapidly spread to adjacent buildings. Near the LPG filling/pump station hundreds of drum with oil were stored. The firefighting operations were hampered by the threat of new explosions.
One person died and 83 were injured. The loss of property was estimated at 5.5E+6 USA dollars. The filling station was totally destroyed except the 2 underground storage tanks. 5750 cylinder were damaged. 8 buildings were totally burned down and 4 buildings were partly destroyed. Total 120 vehicles, including 9 fire engines were burned.
The facility had a license for cylinder and auto LPG filling dated 7th September 1998.
The building was a 3-storey building with basements.
The cylinder refueling equipment:
16 propane type/set
8 butane type/set.
Auto refueling equipment:
4 sets with 2 feeders respectively.

An LPG filling station incident that occurred in Korea has been examined. Potential release sources were evaluated and verified by analyzing captured photo recorded by a TV broadcasting company. Before the BLEVE occurred, the released butane caused a pool fire, which was ignited by an unknown ignition source. During 20/min, about 4.5E+3/kg of butane was released and burned, heating up nearby LPG cylinders and two tank lorries parked at the unloading area.
The first BLEVE was observed at the propane tank lorry with a maximum diameter of about 130/m while the second one was observed at the butane tank lorry with a maximum diameter of about 90/m.
The direct cause of the incident was concluded to be faulty joining of the couplings of the hoses in the butane unloading process from the tank lorry into the underground storage tank.

Lessons learned
As a result, more stringent management systems for LPG filling stations have been promulgated and implemented in Korea such as the installation of water curtains at unloading areas, using loading arms instead of hoses, and much larger safety distances between unloading and filling areas.

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