The 50 Major Engineering Failures (1977-2007) Last Part

List of Engineering Failures Contributed by Material Failures, Corrosion, Design Flaw, and Construction Defect in Oil and Gas Production Facilities, Hydrocarbon Processing, and Oil and Gas Distribution

(Part 5 of 5) – Muhammad Abduh (

46. Ghislenghien Belgium- July 30, 2004 (Pipe Leaking, Natural Gas Pipeline, 24 killed, 120 injured)

Figure showing a damaged industrial park as the excess of Ghislenghien Pipeline Explosion

A pipe leak caused a major underground high-pressure natural gas pipeline explosion. Most of the dead are officials and fire-fighters responding to reports of a gas leak. The exact cause of the pipe leak is still not clear. A heat transfer mathematic model can be used to describe a ductile-brittle transition of pipe material due to significant cooling of the surrounding pipe-wall. This brittle transition occurred when the fluid with certain velocity escape through an initial through-wall defect. The significant reduction in the fracture
toughness combined with the accompanying pressure stresses then result in fracture growth and rupture of the pipe segment. (Source 1, 2, Location)

47. Mihama Japan August 9, 2004 (Erosion-Corrosion, Power Plant, 6 killed, 5 injured)

A steam eruption occurred from failed piping system in a pressurized water reactor (PWR). An orifice plate was inadvertently inserted to the pipe network to measure the coolant flow rate. This caused a localized metal loss in cross sectional area of the piping year-to-year, and the stress level became higher, at last plastic collapse was occurred and the pipe segment ruptured. Unfortunately the pipe thickness was not checked for 27 years due to oversights. (Source)

48. Texas City Texas US – March 23, 2005 (High Temperature Hydrogen Attack, Refinery, 15 killed, 170 injured, USD 30,000,000)

Figure showing Severely Damaged Texas City Refinery

On 23 March 2005, 15 people were killed and over 170 harmed as the result of a fire and explosion on the isomerization unit at a refinery plant in Texas City United States. The accident was an explosion caused by heavier-than-air hydrocarbon vapors combusting after coming into contact with an ignition source. The severity of the accident was increased by the presence of many people congregated in the vicinity of origin of explosion. Detailed investigations were carried by the plant operator and United States Chemical Safety Board. From the health and safety perspective high number of fatalities was concluded to be caused by loss of containment, inadequate trailer sitting at the plant layout and the fault of design engineering of the blowdown stack.

Figure showing failed elbow in Texas City Refinery Explosion

The release of gas was originated at the leaking elbow made of carbon steel in the exchanger piping system resid heat hydrotreater unit (RHU). Investigation to this RHU accident determined that inappropriate material as inadvertently installed in a high pressure and high temperature hydrogen line. The failure of the elbow was noted by the mechanism of high temperature hydrogen attack (HTHA). (Source 1, 2)

49. Sidoarjo East Java Indonesia- November 22, 2006 (Pipe Leaking, Natural Gas Pipeline,11 killed)

Aerial view showing location of Sidoarjo rupture pipe nearby mud volcano big hole (KLH)

Natural gas pipeline with 440 psig pressure failed and caused a major explosion. Most of the victims were government officials in an activity of surveying mud volcano site. The mud volcano was a previously major gas blow out event in location near the accident. The most probable cause of pipeline failure was largely associated with geohazard. At least 25 industrial gas consumer affected by the gas supply interuption because of the explosion including national power plant PLN and petrochemical plant Petrokimia Gresik. (Source 1, 2, 3)

50. Free Town Sierra Leone – December 21, 2007 (Pipe Leaking, Natural Gas Pipeline, 17 killed)

A gas explosion on a crowded street killed 17 people. The explosion tore through a crowded shop. There is no clear information on the exact cause of the pipe leaking. (Source)

See also: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4

3 Responses to The 50 Major Engineering Failures (1977-2007) Last Part

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