The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a video explaining their findings on the October 26, 2019 hydrogen sulfide release at the Aghorn Operating waterflood station in Odessa, Texas.The release fatally injured an Aghorn employee who was working at the facility that evening, as well as his spouse who attempted to locate him at the facility after he did not return home.All audio is courtesy: U.S. Chemical Safety Board. If you want to see the visuals, you can watch the CSB video on the USCSB YouTube channelTranscript
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Hydrogen Sulfide Release, Odessa, TX, Oct 26, 2019 – CSB
October 26th, 2019, the ag horn operating Inc waterfloods station near Odessa, Texas one ag horn employee succumb to toxic hydrogen sulfide gas that had escaped through a damaged. His spouse was also fatally injured by the hydrogen sulfide gas while searching for a mat. The facility after he didn’t return home, hydrogen sulfide is prevalent throughout oil and gas formations in the United States and many oil and gas production.
[00:00:43] And processing facilities, hydrocarbons from the Permian basin in particular, are known to contain high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide that are immediately dangerous to life. Our health, our review, this event is about the unfortunate loss of lives. But the lessons from this incident affect the multitude of other oil and gas facilities throughout the country that handle toxic hydrogen sulfide.
[00:01:15] This incident was both tragic and unnecessary. We urge companies operating oil and gas facilities, to understand the findings from this investigation and implement appropriate safeguards in training. We need to work together to ensure that our workers and community members return home safely eat. And every day
[00:01:50] YAG horn waterflood station is used as part of a process to extract oil from underground reservoirs in west Texas oil extraction starts at an oil. Where pump jacks are used to lift oil from underground reservoirs reservoirs in west Texas also contain hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas, which comes to the surface with the oil that is extracted.
[00:02:15] The oil comes out of the ground with some water in it. To remove the water. The mixture is fed to a tank battery as the oil and water mixture sits in the tanks. The water separates from the oil, the oil is then transported for further processing. The water is pumped through pipelines to the waterflood station.
[00:02:36] It is now called produced water because it can contain residual oil and other contaminants such as toxic hydrogen, sulfide gas. At the waterflood station, the produced water flows into a large storage tank called a suction tank. The water then enters a building called the pump house. Their pumps are used to pressurize the produced water and inject it back into the oil field.
[00:03:03] Through injection Wells, the injected water increases, reservoir pressure and displaces, the oil, allowing a larger quantity of oil to be excited. At the time of the incident, there were two pumps in the pump house. The pump house also contains a control room from which employees run the station. Typically the station is not continuously occupied instead.
[00:03:27] An acorn employee called a pumper visits twice per day to record meter reads. And inspect equipment. If there is an equipment problem and a pumper is not at the station and alarm system triggers an automated phone call to the pumper, it is then the pumpers responsibility to acknowledge the alarm and go to the station to determine what is cost.
[00:03:49] The station was also equipped with a hydrogen sulfide detection and alarm system that would trigger a separate automated phone call to the pumper on duty. If it detected dangerous levels of the toxic gas, the system would also, aluminate a rotating red beacon light on top of the pump house, but the CSB found that this critical detection and alert system was not functional on the night of the incident.
[00:04:15] At 6:38 PM. On October 26th, the waterfloods stations controlled system activated an oil level alarm on a pump. Five minutes later, the phone system called an egg horn pumper alerting him of a pump malfunction of some kind, the pumper to the waterflood station. The hydrogen sulfide beacon light was not illuminated when the pumper arrived at the waterflood station or at any time for the rest of the night.
[00:04:42] The pumper parked near the waterflood station, leaving his personal hydrogen sulfide monitor inside his truck. The pumper went into the control room where the control system indicated the alarm was for pump number one, the pumper prepared for work on pump number one, the pump, which could automatically start when enough water was available to pump to the injection.
[00:05:06] Wells was still connected to its power source. The pumper did not. De-energize the pump, the pumper then walked to the pump. He closed pump number one’s discharge valve, and partially closed the pumps intake valve. While the pumper was near the pump. He was overcome and fatally injured by toxic hydrogen sulfide gas.
[00:05:28] After the incident, the CSB, I found that a plunger on the pump had shattered, which had allowed water containing hydrogen sulfide to escape from the. Into the pump house where the pumper was working due to limitations of available evidence. The CSB was unable to determine whether the pump failure and water release occurred before the pumper arrived at the facility, or if the pump automatically turned on while the pumper was closing.
[00:05:56] After several hours when the pumper did not return home, his spouse, there are two children to the station to check on him. She entered the waterflood station facility for him. She soon found him on the floor in the pump house. She then was also overcome and fatally injured by the toxic hydrogen sulfide gas.
[00:06:18] A short time later, emergency responders approached the pump house. They detected a very strong smell of hydrogen sulfide. This required them to set up the command post outside the front gate of the facility. And where’s, self-contained breathing apparatus. They found the pumper and his wife deceased inside the pump house.
[00:06:40] And water’s spilling from pump. Number one, the responders rescued the two children who were inside the spouse’s car, working with ag horn employees. They were able to stop the water release the following morning. During our investigation, we identified six major safety issues at the facade. One of the six safety issues identified was that the pumper was not equipped with his company issued personal hydrogen sulfide detection device inside the pump house.
[00:07:11] On the night of the incident, when the pumper’s personal hydrogen sulfide detector was located in his work truck, it was found to be in an alarm state, meaning it had detected dangerous levels of hydrogen sulfide. The potential for a hydrogen sulfide release was a known hazard at the waterflood station as indicated by the posted signage and a safety pamphlet provided to all employees.
[00:07:36] However, there was no evidence that ag horn management required use of personal hydrogen sulfide detectors or adequately craned employees. That equipment malfunctions could indeed. Uh, toxic hydrogen sulfide release. We should ensure workers always use the required safety equipment, such as personal detectors when entering a potentially hazardous area, regular training and posting signs will help remind employees to use their safety equipment every time.
[00:08:05] The second safety issue. CSB investigators discovered is that at the time of the incident, ag horn did not have any written lockout, tagout policies or procedures, but relied on verbal procedures without formalized training. On the night of the incident, the pumper did not properly perform lockout tag out to de-energize the pump before performing work.
[00:08:28] Instead, he started to close the pumps valves while the pump was still configured to be automatically operated by the control system. As a result, the control system automatically turned the pump on and water containing hydrogen sulfide was able to escape from the pump when the discharge valve was.
[00:08:49] Companies must have written lockout, tagout policies and procedures that instruct to isolate all possible sources of energy before employees perform work on equipment. Companies also need to routinely train employees on the lockout tagout procedures. Safety issue identified by the CSB was that the ventilation inside the pump house was inadequate leading to fatal concentrations of hydrogen sulfide gas within the.
[00:09:18] The CSB found that the pump house could be ventilated by two bay doors, exhaust fans and natural events on each of the four outside walls due to the limitations of available evidence. The CSB was unable to confirm whether the exhaust fans were operational at the time of the incident. The two bay doors were approximately 60% open, but this was not enough to adequately ventilate the baby.
[00:09:44] And the CSPs investigation could not find any evidence that ag horn assessed the pump house to ensure it could be properly ventilated despite the petition. For a hydrogen sulfide release to occur inside companies should evaluate any buildings that contain equipment handling toxic gases and determine if the building is necessary.
[00:10:05] If it is companies should ensure the building is equipped with a functioning, toxic gas detection and alarm system, and a ventilation system designed for the release of toxic gas. If the building is not necessary for the operation, a safety assessment should be conducted to determine if removal of the building or relocation of the equipment can prevent confinement of any toxic gas releases.
[00:10:30] The fourth safety issue noted by the CSB was the lack of a robust safety management program at EG. Comprehensive safety management practices include risk identification, assessment, mitigation, and monitoring of design procedures, maintenance. Safety management practices are an essential element of protecting workers.
[00:10:53] And non-employees from toxic gases at chemical plants at ag horn. There were no operational training, testing and maintenance procedures or records other than items, such as a cell phone use policy and a pamphlet on the hazards of hydrogen sulfide. These items were not sufficient to prepare employees for potential encounters with hazards in it.
[00:11:18] I work at facilities that handle toxic gases companies must develop and implement a robust safety management program to protect workers. And non-employees from exposure to toxic gas. The CSB identified a fifth safety issue at acorn, which was a non-functioning hydrogen sulfide detection and alarm system.
[00:11:41] Some of the facilities detectors were set to a testing mode, which prevented them from sending an alarm. And other sensors that were correctly set up were unable to send a signal to the control room. As a result, the pumper was not warn of the toxic hydrogen sulfide, either through a telephone alert or illumination of the red pump house beacon light at facilities that handle toxic gases gas detection and alarm systems must be adequately designed, maintained, and tested alarms should clearly alert to the hazard through visual and audible indication.
[00:12:16] Visual indications should be discernible. During any time of day signs alerting the facility handles toxic gas should be posted in clear view legible at day and night and should be well-maintained. And finally the sixth safety issue discovered by the CSB at acorn was deficient site security per egg horns, informal policy.
[00:12:40] When an ag horn employee is working at the facility, the access gates are normally left unlocked on the night of the incident. This practice allowed the pumpers spouse to drive directly to the waterflood station and enter the pump house where she was also fatally injured. Effective site security must be in place to prevent non-employee.
[00:13:03] From accessing hazardous areas. As a result of its investigation, the CSB made the following recommendations to ag horn operating Inc for safety improvements at all water stations where the potential for exposure to dangerous levels of toxic hydrogen sulfide gas exists. These include mandate the use of personal hydrogen sulfide detection devices.
[00:13:28] Develop a site-specific formalized and comprehensive lockout tagout program for each facility commission, an independent and comprehensive analysis of each facility to examine ventilation and mitigation systems develop and demonstrate the use of a safety management program. That includes a focus on protecting workers and non-employees from hydrogen sulfide.
[00:13:54] Ensure that hydrogen sulfide detection and alarm systems are properly maintained and configured and develop site-specific detection and alarm programs and associated procedures. Ensure that the hydrogen sulfide detection and alarm system designs employ multiple layers of alerts, unique to hydrogen sulfide and develop and implement a formal written site-specific security program to prevent unknown and unplanned entrance of those not employed by acorn.
[00:14:29] The CSB also recommended that OSHA issue, a safety information. That addresses the requirements for protecting workers from hazardous air contaminants and from hazardous energy. And the agency made a recommendation to the railroad commission of Texas to develop and send a notice to all oil and gas operators that fall under his jurisdiction that describes the safety issues outlined in the CSPs.
[00:14:57] Ag corn safety deficiencies identified by the CSB through this investigation can be corrected. OSHA implementation of CSPs recommendation would send a strong message to the chemical industry of their priority to protect workers from the risks of chemical releases. This recommendation would not be limited to hydrogen sulfide, but would encompass workers across chemical facility to make.
[00:15:27] The implementation of CSPs recommendation to the railroad commission of Texas would make significant strides to educating the chemical industry and address the majority of waterflood stations that involve hydrogen sulfide. Many of these companies are small and involve employees that work alone. And in many cases in remote locations, This recommendation would also go a long way to help educate those companies that may not be on the leading edge of safety.
[00:16:05] This tragic accident did not need to happen. This is a call to action for all companies, large and small to step up to the plate to prioritize the safety of your workers and your community. For more information about the CSBs ag horn investigation, please.