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Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting 2010

The Buncefield Oil Depot Explosions


11th December 2005
Dougal Drysdale, University of Edinburgh Independent Member of the Board of Investigation

www.buncefieldinvestigation.gov.uk
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Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting 2010

Hemel Hempstead

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Direction from which next image is taken


M1

Buncefield Oil Storage and Transfer Depot

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Tank 912

Northgate Building M1

Bund A Fuji Building

Buncefield Lane

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Tank 912

Northgate Building M1

Bund A

~200 m

Buncefield Lane

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The Incident
On Sunday 11 December 2005, a number of explosions occurred. A main explosion of massive proportions occurred at 06:01:32. There was a large fire, which engulfed over 20 large fuel storage tanks over a high proportion of the site. 43 people injured in the incident, none seriously. No fatalities. Significant damage occurred to both commercial and residential properties. About 2,000 people were evacuated. Sections of the M1 motorway were closed. The fire burned for five days, destroying most of the site and emitting large plume of smoke into the atmosphere, dispersing over southern England and beyond. Fuel supplies to SE England were seriously disrupted

Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting 2010

Northgate Building

From W

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From N

Classic example of an inversion layer

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Fire in Northgate Building

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City of London

Canary Wharf

From S

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The Response
Agencies involved: Hertfordshire Police (co-ordinating) Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) Hertfordshire County Council Dacorum Borough Council Environment Agency Health Protection Agency HFRS supported by 32 other brigades in some capacity At the peak of the fire on 12 December, 180 fire fighters were involved on site More than 750 000 litres of foam concentrate were used, together with 55 million litres of water and 30 km of high-volume hose.

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BPA Tank 12

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Remains of the pumphouse

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910

Water tank

From W

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Tank 12

The pumphouse From N

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Remains of the pumphouse

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912

910

Water tank

From W

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Tank 912

Buncefield Lane Three Cherry Trees Lane

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Tank 912

Northgate Building M1

Bund A

~200 m Fuji Building

Three Cherry Trees Lane

Buncefield Lane

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Northgate Building

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Fuji Building

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Tyres deflated forced off their seals

Damaged car found between the Northgate and Fuji Buildings

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Fuji Building

Damaged van in the Northgate Building Car Park

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Tank 12

Line of damaged cars in Three Cherry Trees Lane (north of the Car Park)

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The Investigation
Joint Competent Authority of HSE and the Environment Agency under Control of Major Accident Hazard (COMAH) Regulations 1999 Investigation established by the Health and Safety Commission under Section 14.2a of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 Decision taken NOT to have a Public Inquiry Lord Newton invited to Chair an Independent Investigation Board of six, including two members external to the joint Competent Authority Eight Terms of Reference laid down

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The Board

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Eight Terms of Reference 1. To ensure the thorough investigation of the incident, the factors leading up to it, its impact both on and off site, and to establish its causation including root causes causes; 2. To identify and transmit without delay to duty holders and other appropriate recipients any information requiring immediate action to further safety and/or environmental protection in relation to storage and distribution of hydrocarbon fuels; 3. To examine the Health and Safety Executives and the Environment Agencys role in regulating the activities on this site under the COMAH regulations, considering relevant policy guidance and intervention activity; 4. To work closely with all relevant stakeholders, both to keep them informed of progress with the investigation and to contribute relevant expertise to other inquiries that may be established; 5. To make recommendations for future action to ensure the effective management and regulation of major accident risk at COMAH sites. This should include consideration of offsite as well as onsite risks and consider prevention of incidents, preparations for response to incidents, and mitigation of their effects; 6. To To produce produce an aninitial initial report report for forthe the Health Health& & Safety SafetyCommission Commissionand andthe the Environment EnvironmentAgency Agency 6. as soon soon as as the the main main facts facts have have been been established. established. Subject Subject to to legal legal considerations, considerations,this this report report as will be be made made public; public; will 7. To ensure that the relevant notifications are made to the European Commission; and 8. To make the final report public. 27

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First Term of Reference:


1. To ensure the thorough investigation of the incident, the factors leading up to it, its impact both on and off site, and to establish its causation including root causes.

Clearly, there was loss of primary containment which led to the formation of a vapour cloud Tank 912 contained winter grade Gasoline

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Winter grade gasoline:


Actual composition unknown, but a likely composition (by weight) was deduced to be (Atkinson et al.): n-butane (as surrogate for all C4) n-pentane (as surrogate for all C5) n-hexane (as surrogate for all C6) n-decane (as surrogate for all low-volatility hydrocarbons) 9.6% 17.2% 16%

57.2%

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Loss of tertiary containment

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First Term of Reference:


1. To ensure the thorough investigation of the incident, the factors leading up to it, its impact both on and off site, and to establish its causation including root causes.

Clearly, there was loss of primary containment which led to the formation of a vapour cloud The vapour cloud found a source of ignition, but why was the explosion so violent?

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Three Progress Reports

Published: 21st February, 2006 Published: 11th April, 2006 Published: 9th May, 2006

www.buncefieldinvestigation.gov.uk

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Timeline of events (3rd Progress Report)


10th December 2005 19.00 hrs Transfer of fuel to Tank 912 commences (550 m3/hour)

11th December 2005 01.30 hrs 03.00 hrs 05.20 hrs 05.38 hrs 05.46 hrs by 05.50 hrs after 05.50 hrs 06.01 hrs Stock check everything OK Level gauge of Tank 912 no longer changes (not detected) Calculation indicates that Tank 912 would have been full Vapour seen coming from NW corner of Bund A (CCTV) Vapour cloud 2 m deep (CCTV) Vapour cloud flowing off-site on to car park (CCTV) Pumping rate (to Tank 912) increases to 890 m3/s First explosion

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White mist first seen in this locality (05:38 hrs)

Water tank

Tank 912

CCTV Camera

Also extent of the vapour cloud

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Clock incorrect 10 minutes fast

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Meteorological conditions
11th December 2005 At 06.30 hrs

Low windspeed (0 m/s 25 miles due south, < 3 m/s 12 miles due north*) Temperature ~ 0oC (-1 oC 25 miles south, 1 oC 12 miles north*) Relative humidity 99% Atmospheric stability Pasquill Category F (inversion)

Consequently, the heavier-than-air vapour/air mixture is not dispersed, but slumps to form a pancake-shaped cloud
* 25 miles south RAF Northolt (no air movement) 12 miles north Luton Airport (light westerly wind)

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Pancake-shaped cloud*: Area at ignition 120,000 m2 Maximum extent 200 m off-site to the West Maximum depth perhaps 4 m along Three Cherry Trees Lane to the North (sloping site depth < 1m to the South near the filling gantries) Average depth taken to be 2 m (for modelling)
Atkinson et al. estimated initial composition of the vapour/air mixture to be 6% n-butane, 6.1% n-pentane, 2.06% n-hexane in air. (Total, 14.16% hydrocarbon in air)

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Northgate Building

05:30:29

05:45:39

Northgate Building

Videocamera viewpoint

05:53:43

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200 m

Extent of burn damage

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Ullage vent

Annular deflector plate

Wind girder

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Fuel spills over deflector plate Fuel is diverted toward the tank wall by deflector plate

Droplet formation enhanced by intersection of liquid sprays and vapour

Air loaded with fuel vapour driven rapidly downward by liquid spray

15m

Increased surface area allows volatile fuel fractions to evaporate and vapour gathers in bund

Atkinson et al: Initial vapour/air mixture will be 14.2% hydrocarbon)

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Demonstration carried out at HSL, Buxton

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Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting 2010

Red line indicates the extent of the burn damage and is assumed to correspond with the limit of the vapour cloud

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Telegraph pole in Buncefield Lane showing heavy sooting

Tree trunk in Northgate car park showing abrasion 47

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Pumphouse

Candidate ignition sources?

Emergency Generator Cabin

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Remains of the pumphouse (there was evidence of an internal explosion)

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Pumphouse

Candidate ignition sources?

Emergency generator cabin

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Location of the Emergency Generator Cabin beside the Northgate Building

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Emergency generator cabin, near the south-east corner of the Northgate building Clear evidence for an internal explosion

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Steel post in the west car park of the Northgate building. The post shows abrasion marks on its south face

Abrasions to the base of a tree in the Northgate building west car park, viewed from the south

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Approximate location of the directional indicators

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Initial Report of the Board


Restated summary of the incident Set out Boards 4 areas of concern: Design and Operation of sites Emergency Preparedness Land Use Planning CAs policies & procedures Established primary containment as a key area for regulator and industry focus Asked the HSE to review approach to planning, with a view to taking risk further into account
Published: 13th July, 2006

Re-stated interest in research into explosion mechanism


Extensive appendices

www.buncefieldinvestigation.gov.uk

Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting 2010

Other reports from the MIIB


Recommendations on the design and operation of fuel storage sites
Published 29 March 2007

Recommendations on the emergency preparedness for, response to and recovery from incidents
Published 17 July 2007

Explosion Mechanism Advisory Group report


Published 16 August 2007

Recommendations on land use planning and the control of societal risk around major hazard sites
Published 15 July 2008

Policy and Procedures Review


(To be published)

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Appointment of Explosion Mechanism Advisory Group


Membership:
Professor Derek Bradley (Leeds University) Professor Geoff Chamberlain (Shell Global Solutions) Dr Laurence Cucso (Health and Safety Laboratory, Buxton) Professor Dougal Drysdale (Edinburgh University) (Chair) Dr Mike Johnson (Adventica) Professor Hans Michels (Imperial College, London) Professor Vincent Tam (BP Exploration)

The group met four times between December 2006 and March 2007 their report was submitted to the MIIB in April 2007 and published in August 2007

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EMAG
Term of reference: to advise if further research was necessary to explain the violence of the explosion
All forensic evidence was made available to the Group

Modus Operandi: open discussions at each meeting, with intense activity between each one Conclusions:

Recommendations:

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EMAG
Conclusions: Directional markers (deflection of trees, lamp posts, etc.) likely to have been caused by reverse flow in the rarefaction wave, i.e. NOT by air movement ahead of the propagating flame High overpressures indicated high flame speeds possibly detonation Magnitude and distribution of overpressures difficult to assess

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EMAG
Recommendations: A 2-Phase Joint Industry Project should be initiated. Phase 1 should complete the assessment started by EMAG and, on the basis of this, define a programme of further research if deemed necessary (Phase 2). Guidance to industry and HSE should be a primary deliverable of the work. The project should be initiated as soon as possible, with Phase 1 completed in early 2008*.
* Phase 1 report published in June 2009

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Buncefield Explosion Mechanism Phase 1

Steering Committee
Chair: HSE Chief Scientist Dr Patrick McDonald Members: Stakeholders who funded Phase 1

Technical Committee
Chair: HSE Chief Scientist Dr Patrick McDonald Members: EMAG members (without Bradley and Michels) Ian Barnes (MoD) Bassam Burgan (SCI) (Programme Manager) Paul Uijt de Haag (RIVM) Jens Holen (StatoilHydro) Pol Hoorelbeke (Total) David Painter (HSE) Niall Ramsden (Energy Institute) Clark Shepard (ExxonMobil)

Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting 2010

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism Phase 1


OBJECTIVES OF THIS PROJECT To provide as definitive a record as possible of the characteristics of the Buncefield incident relevant to the formation and dispersion of the vapour and to the explosion, including the distribution of damage to nearby items and structures; Where possible, to provide industry and the regulator with guidance for the operation of oil fuel storage sites based on this record of information and current WHY THE EXPLOSION SO VIOLENT? knowledge of WAS vapour cloud formation, dispersion and explosions; To define the research that would be required in Phase 2 to confirm in greater detail the explosion mechanism involved in the Buncefield accident and to provide improved guidance for both oil storage facilities and facilities storing other flammable liquids.

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

2010

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism Phase 1


Work packages: Assessment of the Observations and Overpressures Assessment of Witness Statements Examination of CCTV records Assessment of damage to objects (other than buildings) Overall assessment of damage to buildings Detailed assessment of damage to buildings Characterisation of the Buncefield Explosion (including characteristics of the cloud, ignition location, timing of the explosion phases, magnitude and distribution of the overpressures, explosion propagation, and how Buncefield compares with previous incidents) Comparison of potential scenarios with the Buncefield Explosion (deflagration or detonation?) Alternative explosion mechanisms Proposals for Phase 2

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

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Buncefield Explosion Mechanism Phase 1


Characterisation of the Buncefield Explosion

Characteristics of the cloud Ignition location Timing of the explosion phases Magnitude and distribution of the overpressures Explosion propagation How Buncefield compares with previous incidents

Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting 2010

Extent of burn damage also roughly the extent of the pancake-shaped vapour cloud
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Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

2010

Pump house

Direction of drag within the footprint of the vapour cloud is towards the origin of the explosion

Direction of net drag impulse across the Buncefield site Outside the cloud, the impulse was outwards (yellow arrows)

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

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Magnitude and distribution of the overpressures Assessment of damage to objects (other than buildings)

Crushed hydraulic switch box

Crushed electrical connection box

Crushed car

Experiments were carried out to try to replicate this type of damage

Conclusion? Within the cloud, overpressures were above 200 mb, but there is evidence for > 1 bar (perhaps much more?) locally

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

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Magnitude and distribution of the overpressures Assessment of damage to buildings

Northgate Building

Fuji Building

A combination of experience and numerical calculations suggest that this degree of damage indicates overpressures of 150 200 mb

Conclusion? Need to know much more about the source term which requires greater knowledge of the explosion mecanism

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

2010

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism Phase 1


Characterisation of the Buncefield Explosion

Characteristics of the cloud Ignition location Timing of the explosion phases Magnitude and distribution of the overpressures Explosion propagation How Buncefield compares with previous incidents

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

2010

Remains of pumphouse

Propagation of flame radially outwards from the pumphouse

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

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Buncefield Explosion Mechanism Phase 1


Evidence for location of the ignition source

06:03:28

06:03:29

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

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Buncefield Explosion Mechanism Phase 1


Characterisation of the Buncefield Explosion

Ignition location the emergency pumphouse Explosion propagation Internal explosion destroys the Pump House (first explosion) and the flame propagates outwards through the cloud, parts of which are in the hedgerows EXSIM used to model the process (CFD Code developed for explosions in process plant uses sub-grid turbulence generation)

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

2010

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism Phase 1


EXSIM CFD Model developed by Shell Verified against full scale tests carried out (inter alia) by British Gas/Adventica

Bang box

Array of horizontal pipes enclosed with plastic sheeting

Enclosure filled with a stoichiometric methane/air mixture

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

2010

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism Phase 1


EXSIM CFD Model developed by Shell Verified against full scale tests carried out (inter alia) by British Gas/Adventica

Array of pipes fills < 50% of the bang box

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

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Buncefield Explosion Mechanism Phase 1


EXSIM CFD Model developed by Shell (note that EXSIM cannot model the transition from Deflagration to Detonation)

Array of pipes fills 100% of the bang box

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

2010

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism Phase 1


Characterisation of the Buncefield Explosion

Ignition location the emergency pumphouse Explosion propagation Internal explosion destroys the Pump House (first explosion) and the flame propagates outwards through the cloud, parts of which are in the hedgerows EXSIM used to model the process (CFD Code developed for explosions in process plant uses sub-grid turbulence generation) Assumptions the fuel is propane the vapour cloud is stoichiometric the trees and undergrowth can be modelled as if they consisted of rigid pipes in a Cartesian array

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

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Representation of vegetation in Buncefield Lane

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

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Three Cherry Trees Lane

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Buncefield Lane

Final simulation gas cloud and wooded lanes

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

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Fuel cloud 214 ms after combustion initiated within pump house

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

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Overpressure plane scaled to red = 300 mbar (peak = 660 mbar)

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

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Reverse flow behind flame front high velocity but low density (red is > 300 m/s)

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

2010

Unburnt fuel vapour (shown in red) as flame front enters Buncefield Lane (366 ms after ignition)

Unburnt fuel vapour as combustion follows Buncefield Lane (454 ms after ignition)
Fuel cloud 214 ms after combustion initiated within pump house

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

2010

Overpressure as flamefront enters Buncefield Lane (366 ms, red = 200 kPa (c. 2 bar))

Overpressure as combustion follows Buncefield Lane (454 ms, red = 1 bar)

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

2010

More finely resolved congestion

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

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Pressure at 239 ms after ignition, red = 3 bar overpressure

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Explosion pressure increasing along the lane

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Buncefield Explosion Mechanism Phase 1


Modelling the Buncefield Explosion

EXSIM predicts very high flame speeds (up to 600 m/s) but does not model DDT (Deflagration to Detonation Transition) Almost certainly, a flame travelling at 600 m/s would undergo the transition to detonation Detonation probably occurred in the hedgerow near the intersection of Three Cherry Trees Lane and Buncefield Lane and would have propagated through the rest of the cloud wherever the mixture was within the detonable limits

Propagation velocity? 2000 m/s

Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting 2010

Tyres deflated forced off their seals

Did a detonation propagate across the car park?

Damaged car found between the Northgate and Fuji Buildings

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

2010

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism Phase 1


Modelling the Buncefield Explosion

Implications:
Do we have to consider fuel storage depots as high hazard sites?

Essential that the mechanism is properly resolved so that correct decisions can be made regarding land use planning, etc.

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

2010

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism Phase 1


Modelling the Buncefield Explosion

Given that loss of primary containment is a recognised problem (we can reduce its probability), how can we guarantee that a Buncefield-type explosion cannot occur in the future?
Was the mode of release of the gasoline a critical factor? Do we have to re-design the storage tanks? What were the critical characteristics of the hedgerows that most contributed to the development of the explosion? Do we have to remove all hedgerows adjacent to storage facilities, or would control of the undergrowth be sufficient?

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

2010

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism Phase 1


Modelling the Buncefield Explosion

Complacency is not an option!


26th October 2009 major explosion and fire in Puerto Rico, 2.8 on Richter scale. (Understood to be gasoline release)
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/10/26/puerto.rico.fire/

30th October 2009 major explosion and fire in Jaipur, India, 2.3 on Richter scale. Involved failure of pipeline valve, gasoline released.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/12-killed-in-Jaipur-IOC-depotfire-Army-called/articleshow/5178346.cms

Buncefield Explosion Mechanism: HSE Research Report RR718 Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting

2010

Acknowledgements
Part of this presentation is based on the original ppt used by Taf Powell at the 5th International Seminar on Fire and Explosion Hazards, Edinburgh, 2007

The rest is drawn freely from the Final Report of the MIIB*, the Phase 1 Report published as HSE Research Report RR718**, and a paper to be presented next week at the 5th International Seminar on Fire and Explosion Hazards, Leeds (Bradley, Chamberlain and Drysdale) * www.buncefieldinvestigation.gov.uk ** www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr718.pdf

Combustion Institute British Section: Spring Meeting 2010

Thank you for your attention

Any Questions?

www.buncefieldinvestigation.gov.uk