Process Safety Incidents

Explore this topic

A Process Safety Incident typically involves an unexpected mechanical integrity failure in a pipeline system or processing facility, often including a fire, explosion, rupture, or hazardous chemical leak. These incidents can be caused by a number factors including damage mechanisms, human errors, environmental conditions, and just plain bad luck. Process safety incidents can pose significant risks to workers, the environment, and nearby equipment.

It is unlikely that the O&G and chemical processing industries will ever be able to eliminate process safety incidents completely, due to the inherent dangers present when working with hazardous materials at high temperatures and pressures. However, by following good inspection, maintenance, and engineering practices, the frequency of incidents can be minimized.

Relevant Links

Topic Tools

Share this Topic

Contribute to Definition

We welcome updates to this Integripedia definition from the Inspectioneering community. Click the link below to submit any recommended changes for Inspectioneering's team of editors to review.

Contribute to Definition
Articles about Process Safety Incidents

Can individual personnel be at fault for an incident? Is it an issue with the systems in place? Or does the assignment of blame come down to convenience?

Authors: Inspector Frank
March/April 2022 Inspectioneering Journal

There are a lot of potential threats that can interfere with maintaining adequate FEMI. Using situational awareness effectively to anticipate FEMI threats, understand them, and prepare the necessary steps can avoid a potential LOPC from the threat.

Authors: John Reynolds

There are still lessons to be learned 48 years after the failure of the cyclohexane plant that led to the explosion that occurred on Saturday, June 1, 1974.

Authors: Inspector Frank
September/October 2021 Inspectioneering Journal

This follow-up article discusses the important topic of establishing Heat Exposure Zones and Level 1, 2, and 3 fitness-for-service assessments following a plant fire.

Authors: Greg Garic, P.E.
July/August 2021 Inspectioneering Journal

Part 1 presents a brief overview of the process of assessing equipment in a post-fire "return-to-service" effort and discusses some common issues that may arise during that process.

Authors: Greg Garic, P.E.
Partner Content

The problem is, you don’t. With the out of date procedures that traditional inspection contractors use, data is usually invalid by the time it reaches your system. You rely on this data to make critical decisions regarding integrity concerns, and...

May/June 2021 Inspectioneering Journal

This article is oriented toward identifying and assessing the risk of potentially high consequence, but usually lower likelihood, FEMI issues that could cause a big event at operating sites if sufficient safeguards or barriers are not in place.

Authors: John Reynolds

This is the first article in a new column. In each article, the author will share technical, thought-provoking, and sometimes humorous or emotional experiences garnered in a career that spans over 20 years inside the gates of facilities.

Authors: Inspector Frank

UT couplant auto-ignition is a surprise event that puts the safety of inspectors at risk. In an effort to reduce occurrences, API SCIMI plans to address this issue by including new paragraphs in the upcoming rewrites of API RP 572 and API RP 574.

Authors: Gene Larson
January/February 2019 Inspectioneering Journal

This article provides a summary of the 2019 API Inspection & MI Summit keynote address, which offers a past, present, and future outlook on fixed equipment mechanical integrity from an industry professional with 50+ years of experience.

Authors: John Reynolds
July/August 2016 Inspectioneering Journal

This article details the basis for the lack of understanding about the potential for ultrasonic couplant auto-ignition and outlines an ALARP operating practice for mitigation.

Authors: Gene Larson
Partner Content

Equity Engineering Practices® (EEPs) are a collection of design and maintenance focused corporate standards that include >850 engineering standards, and >300 piping classes. Enhance your mechanical integrity programs, improve equipment...


Sometimes with our busyness with the “Daily Grind," we can forget about our most important mission – prevention of a big event caused by an unanticipated fixed equipment mechanical integrity (FEMI) failure. Those big events are the ones that...

Authors: John Reynolds
September/October 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

If everyone in an industrial setting actively looked for things that were not right or seemed different, or looked at small mistakes as opportunities to prevent larger ones, what would the future look like?

Authors: Virginia Edley
July/August 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

Rarely is there a new and unknown cause of a major Fixed Equipment Mechanical Integrity (FEMI) failure in the petrochemical and refining industry. This article briefly summarizes five major fixed equipment mechanical integrity (FEMI) failures from...

Authors: John Reynolds
September/October 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

Based on my 45+ years of experience working with fixed equipment mechanical integrity (FEMI) issues in the refining and petrochemical processing industry, this article summarizes what I believe are the top 10 reasons why pressure vessels and piping...

Authors: John Reynolds
July/August 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

Piper Alpha is an offshore oil and gas platform that suffered an explosion in July 1988, still regarded as the worst offshore oil disaster in the history of the United Kingdom. The 25th anniversary of the disaster was commemorated across the...

Authors: Jerry Crawford
Partner Content

In today's chemical and refining industries, sustained long term reliability of facilities is critical to profitability and competitiveness. In fact, history shows that differences in operating expenses between best-in-class refineries, and poor...


This blog post is the second part of a two part series that assesses the top ten reasons for FEMI failures that cause process safety incidents. The ten reasons I’ve outlined are a result of doing 60+ FEMI audits within refineries and chemical...

Authors: John Reynolds
May/June 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

An adequate characterization of the Keystone XL special conditions from the perspective of pipeline integrity and risk would be advantageous from the system onset for identifying latent flaws in the system spill prevention plans.

Authors: Sergio Oliva
May/June 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

Several catastrophic spills over the past few years have sparked significant interest in oil spill prevention across the industry. Not only do facilities with large amounts of oil want to prevent environmental damage, loss of product, and civil...

Authors: Kelly Lagana
September/October 2012 Inspectioneering Journal

On August 6, 2012, a piping failure occurred in the #4 Crude Unit at the Chevron U.S.A. Inc. refinery in Richmond, CA. Chevron U.S.A. would like to share some potentially significant preliminary information regarding the incident.

November/December 2011 Inspectioneering Journal

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) today released its final report on a series of three accidents that occurred over a 33-hour period on January 22 and 23, 2010, at the DuPont Corporation's Belle, West Virginia, chemical manufacturing plant -...

Partner Content

Antea delivers highly flexible risk-based asset integrity software with 3D Digital Twin integration to optimize maintenance, reduce risk, and improve mechanical integrity for oil and gas, power generation, and chemical plants and facilities....

July/August 2011 Inspectioneering Journal

Tesoro Corporation announced the release of the TOP (Triangle of Prevention) Investigation Team Report on the April 2, 2010, incident at the Anacortes Refinery in Washington State.

July/August 2010 Inspectioneering Journal

In a report issued May 27, 2009 for an investigation into the November 2008 fertilizer tank collapse at Allied Terminals in Chesapeake, VA, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) recommended that the Commonwealth of Virginia regulate or authorize...

May/June 2010 Inspectioneering Journal

Washington, DC, May 19, 2010 - The practice of using flammable natural gas to clean power plant piping, which led to the fatal explosion at Connecticut-based Kleen Energy on February 7, has been commonly used across the gas-fired power generating...

January/February 2010 Inspectioneering Journal

Washington, DC, January 25, 2010 - The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) today voted to initiate an investigation of recent accidents at the DuPont chemical complex in Belle, West Virginia, following a release of highly toxic phosgene on Saturday...

January/February 2010 Inspectioneering Journal

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) issued urgent safety recommendations calling on CITGO to immediately improve its emergency water mitigation system in the event of another release of potentially deadly hydrogen fluoride (HF) vapor, as occurred...

Partner Content

The OmniScan™ X3 64 phased array and TFM flaw detector is equipped with enhanced phased capabilities and even faster TFM. The rugged and portable instrument features powerful 64-element probes with a 128-aperture TFM.

September/October 2008 Inspectioneering Journal

Washington, DC, September 18, 2008 - A fire and series of explosions at the Barton Solvents Des Moines, Iowa, chemical distribution facility on October 29, 2007, was caused by a static electrical spark resulting from inadequate electrical bonding...

September/October 2008 Inspectioneering Journal

Washington, DC, August 20, 2008 - The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) announced today that it is proceeding with an investigation of the causes of a recent accident at the Goodyear rubber manufacturing facility in southeast Houston, in which one...

November/December 2007 Inspectioneering Journal

The Inspectioneering Journal was unable to validate this report but it still serves well for all of us who enter equipment as an example not to take lightly, safety procedures that should not be ignored, side stepped nor steps skipped. Here is the...

March/April 2007 Inspectioneering Journal

Sunray,Texas, March 9, 2007 - The U.S. Chemical Safety Board today announced it is conducting a full investigation of the propane fire that occurred February 16 at the Valero McKee Refinery here, seriously burning three workers and forcing the...

January/February 2007 Inspectioneering Journal

On July 20, 2003, a release of chlorine gas from the Honeywell International, Inc. (Honeywell) chemical plant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, resulted in injuries to seven plant workers and issuance of a shelter-in place advisory for residents within a...

July/August 2006 Inspectioneering Journal

This Case Study describes an explosion and fire in a polyethylene wax processing facility operated by Marcus Oil and Chemical in Houston, Texas. Structural damage and glass breakage occurred up to one quarter mile from the facility, injuring local...

May/June 2006 Inspectioneering Journal

On 11 December 2005, fuel at the Buncefield storage ter- minal near London exploded. The incident and immediate aftermath were described in the March-April 2006 edition of IJ. The investigation into the disaster began at the end of January. Three...

March/April 2006 Inspectioneering Journal

On Sunday morning 11 December 2005, fuel at the Buncefield storage terminal located about 45km (28 miles) north-west of central London exploded, starting fires that have been described as the biggest of their kind in peacetime Europe, Fig.1. The...

September/October 2003 Inspectioneering Journal

Recently an unnecessary financial incident was caused as a result of an inadequate tank inspection and failure to recognize the hazards of rain entering leaking fixed roofs of storage tanks. A bolted bladder tank upgrade was scoped for miscellaneous...

Authors: P.E. Myers
May/June 1998 Inspectioneering Journal

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the report on this catastrophic failure that involved two storage tanks in a Pennsylvania refinery. The report issued March 20, 1998, stated that while both tanks had roof replacements since their...

Authors: Greg Alvarado
    Videos related to Process Safety Incidents
      Downloads & Resources related to Process Safety Incidents
        News related to Process Safety Incidents

          Inspectioneering Journal

          Explore over 20 years of articles written by our team of subject matter experts.

          Company Directory

          Find relevant products, services, and technologies.

          Training Solutions

          Improve your skills in key mechanical integrity subjects.

          Case Studies

          Learn from the experience of others in the industry.


          Inspectioneering's index of mechanical integrity topics – built by you.

          Industry News

          Stay up-to-date with the latest inspection and asset integrity management news.


          Read short articles and insights authored by industry experts.

          Expert Interviews

          Inspectioneering's archive of interviews with industry subject matter experts.

          Event Calendar

          Find upcoming conferences, training sessions, online events, and more.


          Downloadable eBooks, Asset Intelligence Reports, checklists, white papers, and more.

          Videos & Webinars

          Watch educational and informative videos directly related to your profession.


          Commonly used asset integrity management and inspection acronyms.