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In what could be termed the worst industrial accident involving an oxygen system, a June 2012 fire in India at a steel plant’s oxygen pressure reducing station (PRS) killed all 19 persons present during the station’s planned commissioning. The government of India appointed a committee to investigate the accident. This paper provides details about system configuration and possible operations as well as involved officials’ statements from the committee’s unpublished report. Because the devastating fire left no witness to help chronicle the chain of operational events, the media and the public still do not understand the root cause of the accident. Schematics of the plant and its components, materials of construction, plant conditions, and circumstances that existed during the accident have been described in this paper. Laws of physics and engineering, metallurgical analyses, and a study of the remains of pipes and components are used in discussions. The recorded data that existed in various control rooms of the plant helped to ascertain and explain possible modes of operation attempted by commissioning engineers that eventually resulted in the fire, explosion, and deaths. Exclusive photographs of the accident site and burned components supplement the analysis.
steel plant, pressure reducing station, check valve, oxygen filter, accident, fire
Cryogenic Engineering Centre, IIT Academic Campus St., Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, West Bengal