Friday, December 22, 2023

Review - CSB Publishes KMCO Explosion and Fire Report

Yesterday, the Chemical Safety Board published their report on the 2019 incident at the KMCO facility in Crosby, TX. The report describes the release of isobutylene from a process line and the subsequent fire and explosion that killed one employee and severely burned two others. The proximate cause of the release was a brittle-metal fracture in a carbon steel y-strainer due to uncontrolled liquid thermal expansion pressure on the line.

The report outlined three safety issues identified during the investigation:

• Emergency response,

• Remote isolation, and

• Hazard evaluation


This report made no formal recommendations. The facility went into bankruptcy as a result of the incident and the new owners did not reinstate the isobutylene process unit. The report did, however, note (pg 70):

“Nevertheless, the CSB urges Altivia to read this report closely and understand the factors that led to the incident at the KMCO facility and the lessons stemming from it. Moreover, if hereafter Altivia reinitiates the process or any equipment involved in this incident, the company should ensure that the facts, conditions, and circumstances that caused the incident—and contributed to its severity—are not repeated.”

The report did document the numerous instances where existing safety and industry standards adequately (and in some instances exhaustively) addressed the issues leading to the incident and its outcome.


NOTE: There is one incident left on the CSB’s backlog of incident reports, Wendland 1H Well – Burleson County, TX – 1/29/2020. I fully expect that the CSB will publish this report before year end.


For more information about this report, see my article at CFSN Detailed Analysis - - subscription required.

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