The Bp Texas Refinery Explosion Occurred

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1. BACKGROUND
DESCRIPTION OF WHAT HAPPENED.
The BP Texas Refinery explosion occurred on 23 March 2005 when a hydrocarbon vapour cloud exploded at the isomerization unit at the oil refinery in Texas City. 15 workers were killed and 180 were injured. It was one of the worst industrial disasters in the United States.
British Petroleum inherited the refinery when it merged with AMOCO, an American-based global chemical and oil company. It is the third largest oil refinery in the United States. The isomerisation unit was designed for converting low octane hydrocarbons to higher octane hydrocarbons to be blended into unleaded petrol. A 164 feet tall tower, called the raffinate splitter, was used to separate out lighter hydrocarbon components.
In the early morning hours of March 23, 2005, the huge steel isomerisation unit was started up and operators began feeding liquid hydrocarbons into the splitter tower. Even though the tower was 164 feet tall, the prescribed maximum fluid level was limited to 8 feet to prevent over-pressurization of the tower. An alarm went off to warn operators that the liquid level was above the safe limit, but they ignored it as they have been doing often in the past. When they stopped feeding the tower, the level was already 13 feet.
The start-up procedure of the isomerisation unit required that the level control valve on the splitter tower be used to send liquid from the tower to storage. But the valve was closed by an operator, causing the

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