DCU Operations Create Hazards in Texas Oil Refineries
The relatively limited supply of higher quality crude oils has caused oil refineries to rely more on intensive refining techniques such as DCU operations (drum switching and coke cutting). DCU is one process used to upgrade the heavy ends of the current crude oil and is a form of thermal cracking that requires high temperature usage for an extended period of time. The batch portion of DCU operations can be very dangerous and has been associated with serious accidents.
Oil refinery accidents continue to occur in spite of the strict OSHA standards and safety protocols that are in place. When an injury occurs at a Texas oil refinery, it is important to seek an experienced lawyer who knows the industry to ensure you receive the compensation and care you need.
Five common causes of oil refinery accidents are:
- Geysers/ eruptions – although somewhat infrequent, if the coke within the drum is not drained properly and a shift in the coke bed occurs; residual water can contact the pockets of hot coke, causing a geyser of steam, hot water, coke particles and hydrocarbon.
- Hot tar ball ejection – steam short-circuiting and feed interruption may cause “hot tar balls,” over 800˚F tar-like material to form in the drum which, under certain circumstances, can eject from the head opening
- Non-drained water release – non-drained hot water may be released during bottom head removal and create a scalding hazard
- Shot coke avalanche – when coke forms into multiple individual, various-sized, round chunks they create what is known as “shot coke.” This changes the drum content into more of a liquid form that can easily flow from the drum when the bottom head is removed and create a shot coke avalanche
- Platform removal/ falling hazard – many DCUs have platforms that must be removed before removing the head of the bottom of the drum, and this can create a falling hazard.
If you have experienced an injury while working at a Texas oil refinery, contact our Austin lawyers for a free consultation.
Source: 24-7 Press Release; Cause of Texas Oil Refinery Explosion Under Investigation