Ethanol Tank Fire

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Ethanol Tank Fire Manildra, Inc. Port Kembla, NSW, Australia 3 Mar 04: 

Ethanol Tank Fire Manildra, Inc. Port Kembla, NSW, Australia 3 Mar 04 R.A. Hawrelak CBE 317 CBE 497

The Incident: 

The Incident One person is missing, and another has minor injuries after an explosion and fire at an ethanol tank at Port Kembla, south of Wollongong, in New South Wales. The tank, 7 million litres of inflammable liquid, blew up near the Port Kembla steelworks shortly before 10am AEDT.

First Responder Observations: 

First Responder Observations “The roof was blown off the tank and was lifted some 30 meters into the air, only to land next to the tank and damage the firefighting equipment for the whole installation!!" “The flames were quite spectacular, sometimes leaping 50 meters into the sky.” “There are concerns the flames will now spread to other fuel storage tanks containing both ethanol and oil.”

First Responder Observations: 

First Responder Observations “The blaze in the ethanol tank has burned for most of yesterday and forced the evacuation of local businesses and hundreds of residents.” "Because it's an ethanol-based fire we put a foam blanket over the fire to cut the oxygen out to break the combustion cycle,"

First Responder Observations: 

First Responder Observations “Fire fighting foam is also being sent to the scene under police escort.” "We have set up water curtains between the tanks to cool the air between the tanks to alleviate the danger the fire will spread.”

Questions That Should Be Asked: 

Questions That Should Be Asked Was the location of the tank farm and its proximity to populated areas suitable? Was the location of the local fire fighting equipment suitable in view of the potential consequences of an incident? Was the need for an adequate supply of foam determined in advance in view of the potential consequences of an incident? Were the ethanol tanks blanketed with a N2 pad? Were tanks vents being flared? Was hot work being performed in the area prior to the incident?

Another Ethanol Incident: 

Another Ethanol Incident In Feb 04, a tanker carrying ethanol exploded just off the shore of Virginia. The ship sank and there were only a few life raft survivors. Unfortunately, no pictures and very little information are available.

Ethanol - NIOSH: 

Ethanol - NIOSH


CAMEO CAMEO is a suite of software programs you can use to plan for and respond to chemical emergencies. It was developed for chemical emergency planners and responders by the CAMEO team. That team includes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office (EPA CEPPO, online at and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Response and Restoration (NOAA OR&R, online at CAMEO includes a set of databases, or modules, a toxic gas dispersion model ("plume model") called ALOHA, and an electronic mapping program called MARPLOT. CAMEO runs on Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh computers. … AND IT’S A FREE DOWNLOAD!!!

CAMEO – Firefighting: 

CAMEO – Firefighting Do not extinguish fire unless flow can be stopped. Use water in flooding quantities as fog. Solid streams of water may be ineffective. Cool all affected containers with flooding quantities of water. Apply water from as far a distance as possible. Use "alcohol" foam, dry chemical or carbon dioxide. (© AAR, 1999)

CAMEO – Fire Hazard: 

CAMEO – Fire Hazard FLAMMABLE. Flashback along vapor trail may occur. Vapor may explode if ignited in an enclosed area. (USCG, 1999)

Ethanol Vapor Pressure: 

Ethanol Vapor Pressure

Ethanol Flammability: 

Ethanol Flammability

End Of Presentation: 

End Of Presentation Learn how to store, handle, and ship a Class 1B Flammable Liquid. It may save your life! Potential Questions on CBE 317 exam. Special thanks to Norman Nibber, VP, AON Inc Special thanks to P.J. Fink, VP, Kemex, Inc Professor Hawrelak, UWO, Dept of Chemical Engineering