(Updated Aug 30th, 2014)
"West, Texas Fertilizer Distributor Explosion"
by: Roger Sowell
The presentation will address several safety issues that led to the fatal explosion in West, Texas, of an ammonia-based fertilizer distribution company, and a few of the legal issues that ensued. Also discussed will be lessons that can be applied to the design and operation of similar facilities.
The little town of West, Texas, is a bit south of Dallas. The event started with a fire, followed a few minutes later by a tremendous explosion. Several people lost their lives in the explosion; many others were injured. A number of structures were destroyed or damaged. The explosion registered on seismometers as 2.1 intensity.
Roger Sowell is a California attorney and holds a B.S. (1977) in chemical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin. He advises and represents operating companies and engineers in civil matters related to process safety, environmental, professional malpractice, climate change, and other legal matters. He also works with other attorneys on matters where engineering expert witnesses are involved. Before opening his law office, he worked for 20 years in more than 75 refineries and petrochemical plants worldwide. He is a frequent speaker to student and professional groups. He is published in Hydrocarbon Processing, CryoGas International, and runs the blog SowellsLawBlog. He is deeply involved in climate change, nuclear power plants, renewable energy, and fresh water issues. He is a past member of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, Los Angeles County Bar Association, AIChE and its Safety and Health Division. He also plays a little guitar, golf, and regularly uses renewable energy propulsion systems while sailing.
Industrial experience includes:
Chlor-Alkali plants with modified diaphragm cell, and Nafion (TM) membrane cell technology
Plant construction supervision, commissioning, post-commissioning guarantee runs - USA and overseas
Petroleum refining process engineering including fuels, lubes, aromatics, and asphalt production
Petroleum refining FEED for multiple grass-roots projects
Detailed process simulation for essentially every refining process, kinetic and flowsheet
Refining profitability studies representing more than $1 billion, cumulative over 30 years
Identified and implemented multiple Golden Valve improvements (no capital investment required)
Computer simulation development and upgrades for several refining processes
Artificial Intelligence system development and deployment
Production optimization and planning for single and multiple refineries/ethylene plant
Petrochemical plant process engineering including E/P, naphtha, and gas oil crackers
Energy production, optimization, and management systems
Design and cost/benefit for gas turbine combined cycle cogeneration plant installed at large chlor/alkali plant
Cryogenic process design and cost/benefit
Petroleum coke and coal-fired cogeneration plant design and cost/benefit
Developed and marketed time-based optimization technique for heat exchanger cleaning cycles
Designed and implemented a safe catalytic decomposition system for Sodium Hypochlorite at pilot and commercial scales
Tuesday, Sept 16, 2014.
94th Aero Squadron Restaurant 16320 Raymer St, Van Nuys, CA
91406. (818) 994-7437
$30 members; $20 retired & between jobs, $10 students, add $5 for non-section members and those without reservations.