Sunday, January 24, 2016

1955 Whiting, IN Refinery Fire Video

Screenshot @ 0:30, cropped

August 1955: Onlookers watching the refinery blaze from a distance were surprised by a subsequent explosion and ran for their cars. Life magazine, Sept 5, 1955, Wallace Kirkland.
[It sounds like that was a BLEVE.]
"It was early dawn that Saturday morning. A brand new hydroformer at the Whiting refinery was cranking up. It was also known by some as a “cat cracker,” as catalysts were used with naphtha and hydrogen under high pressure and heat to make higher-octane fuel. The hydroformer stood 260 feet high, or more than twenty-five stories tall. It was a giant piece of equipment, made of steel plate and concrete, designed to withstand the rigors of heavy operating pressures. In it’s production of high octane fuel, it would process 30,000 gallons of highly flammable naphtha every day. This hydroformer was one of the heaviest vessels ever made for oil refining at that time, then believed to be state of the art. But something went terribly wrong that Saturday morning." [I normally don't do click-bait, but it is an interesting article.]
Greg Trock shared
Bill Price: The explosion rattled the windows at my grandparent's apartment house on 88th and Manistee! I was living there when it happened.
Screenshot @ 0:12, cropped

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I have several pictures of the refinery in Romeoville because when I am in the area, I go on the high-bridge of 135th Street to check for action on the BNSF/Santa Fe, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and the coal pile of the power plant. This is the refinery that blew a tall (huge) pressure tower a few blocks away a few decades ago. I remember seeing a fire from several miles to the north.
20150523 1913
The first photo is "collateral damage" because I was taking a picture of the train. The second picture was deliberate after I got pictures of the tow going northbound on the canal because of all of the construction activity. Even if it is dangerous, I assume it is a good source of jobs, and the construction indicates that it is economically viable.
safe_image for BP Whiting Refinery Completes $300M Project
[They installed a naphtha hydrotreater, which removes sulfur and nitrogen compounds which helps them meet the EPA Tier 3 requirement of an average sulfur content of no more than 10 parts per million.]

I'm reminded that it was a BP refinery that had a horrible accident in Texas. And of course they ran a tanker aground in Alaska and blew up a deep well oil platform in the Gulf. If BP has the same "cowboy" attitude towards safety here, at least they have had better luck more recently.

Mike Delaney posted
Tanker Polaris Indiana Harbor, she's heading to Whiting. Ryerson in background tipped with work being done on the prop seal.

So ships went quite a way inland on the Indiana Harbor Canal. In fact, I see that they still use articulated tanker barges, which are today's equivalent of lake boats.


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