The Safety and Technical Committee of NLPGA initiated an investigation into the gas explosion that occurred on February 20, 2023, at Nelmic Gas Plant, Effurun, Delta State. The incident involved a BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion) due to uncontrolled release of LPG from a single-unit 20-tonne storage tank, caused by an undetermined factor. This is a Learning from Incidents (LFI) safety program and not a fault-finding process.
The investigation revealed several key lessons regarding equipment and process failures, which are as follows:
The absence of an emergency response plan led to a delay in response to the emergency call until the fire escalated.
The firewater sprinkler was non-functional as there was no water in the tank at the time of the incident, indicating a lack of monitoring and periodic testing of critical equipment.
The facility lacked gas leak detectors, which could have sensed gas leaks, triggered the alarm system, and activated the emergency response if synchronized.
The absence of a functional PRV (Pressure Relief Valve) prevented the reduction of tank pressure by flaring the gas, thereby preventing BLEVE and mitigating the impact of undue pressure due to heat.
There was no evidence of functional Emergency Shutoff Valves (ESV) and Excess Flow Valves (EFV), which could have isolated the tank and prevented the uncontrolled gas release.
Poor Safety Implementation, including the lack of self-regulation, Safety Audit, Periodic testing and an emergency drill emphasizes the need for the NLPGA to float a complimentary safety audit program for members as part of value addition.
Incident Tourism should be discouraged, and individuals should be educated on the dangers of taking photographs and videos of fires and other similar incidents.
Lack of adequate LPG facility operations training highlights the importance of providing minimum industry training to everyone in an LPG plant to ensure they are well-informed on safety and emergency management.
All of these lessons can help make sure that this kind of accident does not reoccur, and there are safety measures put in place by Gas plant management in the event that it occurs.