Biodiesel Plant Accident: ANP Investigation Report

Brazil’s regulatory agency for petroleum, natural gas, and biofuels (Agência Nacional do Petróleo, Gás Natural e Biocombustíveis – ANP), recently approved the investigation report on an accident that occurred at a biodiesel plant. The incident, which took place on April 8, 2019, resulted in two fatalities and raised critical safety concerns.


Location and Company

The accident occurred at the biodiesel plant operated by Prisma Comercial Exportadora de Oleoquímicos Ltda., situated in Sumaré, São Paulo.

Cause of the Accident

The investigation revealed that the accident was triggered by an explosion in one of the tanks. This particular tank served as a decanter and stored a mixture of crude glycerin and biodiesel. Simultaneously, welding work was being carried out on the tank’s roof, which was identified as a potential ignition source.

Immediate Impact

As a result of the explosion and tank rupture, the fluid – comprising crude glycerin and biodiesel – leaked. Fortunately, the spillage remained contained within the process channels, preventing soil contamination and harm to any ecosystems. However, the incident caused damage to the facility and led to a temporary interruption of operations.

ANP’s Response

ANP officials promptly visited the Prisma biodiesel production facility in Sumaré to assess the situation and monitor the company’s immediate actions. During the inspection, it was discovered that the company had made unauthorized layout modifications compared to the approved basic design. As a precautionary measure, ANP temporarily shut down the installation to prevent further accidents.

Subsequent inspections were conducted to verify safety conditions, isolation measures, and repairs in the affected area. Once ANP confirmed that the necessary corrective actions had been taken, the installation was reopened.

Root Causes

The Investigation Committee identified eight root causes of the accident related to non-compliance with the requirements of the Ministry of Labor’s Regulatory Standards NR-01, NR-20, and NR-35, ANP Resolution No. 30/2006, and ANP Resolution No. 734/2018. The identified causes relate to:

  1. Outdated Risk Analysis: The risk assessment process was not up-to-date.
  2. Non-Compliance with Regulations: The company failed to adhere to applicable regulations.
  3. Lack of Change Management: Changes to the facility layout were not properly managed.
  4. Ineffective Workforce Training: Insufficient training for employees.
  5. Absence of Work Orders: Lack of proper work orders.
  6. Missing Work Permits: No formal permits for specific tasks.
  7. Outdated Area Classification Study: The area classification study was not current.
  8. Operational Oversight: Inadequate oversight during welding operations.

Conclusion

The Prisma biodiesel plant accident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of rigorous safety protocols, compliance with regulations, and continuous risk assessment. ANP’s thorough investigation and subsequent actions aim to prevent similar incidents in the future and protect both workers and the environment.

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