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Nick Chumo

Addy Hellebusch
Matt Kelley
Chris Williams
 November 19, 1984
 San Juanico; a suburb of Mexico City
 20 km outside of Mexico City
 40,000 residents
 Low income families
 Homes as close as 130m to plant
Plant and “Process”
 Pemex State Oil Company
 Storage & Distribution facility for liquefied
petroleum gas (LPG)
 LPG comes in from 3 different refineries
 54 LPG storage tanks- 16,000m3
 Daily throughput- 5,000m3
 6 large spherical tanks
○ 2 largest holding 2400m3
 48 smaller tanks of various sizes
 Built to API Standards
Right Before Explosion
 Being filled from a refinery 400km away
 11,000m3 LPG on site
 Fall in pressure
 The cause of the pressure drop was
 no one initiated emergency shutdown
Pemex Before
Pemex After
What Happened
 One of the deadliest industrial disasters
in world history
 The initial vapor cloud explosion was the
start of a chain reaction of explosions
 There were 19 explosions
 15 cylindrical tanks
 The 4 smaller spheres
 Many of the explosions were BLEVEs
 The relative times can be told from seismic
What Happened cont.
 Most of the damage to the city was from
fires not the explosions
 Fragments from the tanks reached over
1,200 m away
 The fragments were hot enough to start fires
 Pieces trailed raining LPG as they flew
 A concentrated rescue effort was put
into action with 3000 rescuers on site
 200 firefighters risked their lives
Accident Timeline
 5:30am Rupture of 8 in. pipe;
Pressure drop in control room
 5:40am Ignition of gas cloud; Violent
combustion and high flame
 5:45am First explosion on
seismograph, a BLEVE; Fire
department called
 5:46am Second BLEVE, one of the
most violent
 6:00am Police alerted and civilian
traffic stopped
 6:30am Traffic chaos
Accident Timeline cont.
 7:01am Last explosion on
seismograph, a BLEVE
 7:30am Continuing tank explosions
 8-10:00am Rescue work at its height
 11:00am Last tank explosion
 12-6:00pm Rescue work continues
 11:00pm Flames extinguished on last
large sphere
 10:00am Last fires put out (next day)
Root Causes
 Official
cause of rupture is unknown
 One report cited
 Overfilled tank caused the inlet line to
 Failure of relief valve
 500-600 deaths; 300+ never identified
 5000-7000 severe injuries
 10,000-60,000 people made homeless
 31 million dollars of damages
 Destruction of 1/3 of the LPG supply to
Mexico City
Future Preventions
 Timely inspections
 Maintain industrial standards
 Better maintenance
 Effective operator training
 Housing appropriate distance
Future Preventions cont.
 Proper layout of large LPG
 Gas detection and emergency
 Water system failures
 Extra water hydrants in the
 Planned evacuation routes
 This deadly disaster struck the morning
of November 19, 1984
 Lasted from 5:30am till 10:00am the
next day
 Left hundreds dead and thousands
injured and homeless
 Many lessons can be learned from the