PMI Incidents - A Recurring Theme in the Hydrocarbon Process Industry

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By John Reynolds at Intertek. This article appears in the November/December 2004 issue of Inspectioneering Journal

Unfortunately there is a recurring theme of pressure equipment integrity incidents in the hydrocarbon process industry which has been identified by the API and that is leaks and fires caused by the inadvertent substitution of materials of construction in piping systems - the so called positive materials identification (PMI) incidents.

The seriousness of this issue was highlighted a little over a decade ago when there was a major explosion and fire in a refinery coker unit on the Gulf Coast that resulted in three fatalities. A six inch carbon steel elbow had inadvertently been installed in a 5 chrome piping system some 30 years earlier, but had lasted 30 years because it was in mostly stand-by service. That tragic incident kicked off a major re- examination of PMI practices in the industry, led by the commendable efforts of the company that suffered the loss.

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