Puerto Rico Refinery Fire Caused by Fuel Monitor Failure
11/18/2009 - 14:37 ||
The team investigating the devastating explosions that hit the Caribbean Petroleum Corp.’s Bayamon refinery and fuel storage complex near the capital city of San Juan has declared the incident an accident. Jeff Wanko, head of the investigation team sent by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, told a press conference that the fire was caused by the failure of the fuel monitoring system. The night of the fire, oil in one of the 40 tanks at the refinery overflowed, allowing the fire to spread quickly throughout the facility.
Wanko went on to explain that the system failed to detect the overflow, which then vaporized into a cloud more than 200 meters large and immediately exploded as soon as it came into contact with an energy source.
There had been early speculation that the fire may have been a terrorist act or deliberate sabotage in response to Gov. Fortuño's recent announcement of layoffs of more than twenty thousand government employees. But the FBI’s special agent in charge in Puerto Rico, Luis Fraticelli, also ruled out anything but accidental cause.