Statoil has been reprimanded over a near fatal incident which involved workers being exposed to “highly toxic” gas.
The Petroleum Safety Authority have issued the Norwegian operator with a notification order after the safety breaches at the Sture terminal, 50 km northwest of Bergen.
An investigation found that five workers were exposed to venting hydrogen suphide (H2S) from a reactor during routine maintenance on October 12, last year.
The PSA report states: “The incident occurred in connection with work on an H2S reactor in the cleaning facility for oily water. Two operators, an apprentice and two interns climbed to the top of the 14-metre-high H2S reactor to check its condition.
“Toxic H2S flowed out through a venting valve on the top, and the individuals who had climbed up were exposed to the gas to varying degrees.
“Four of them eventually managed to get down, while the fifth needed assistance.
“An emergency response was initiated, whose participants helped reduce the impact of the incident, at times at the risk of their own lives and health.
“Five persons were hospitalised, of whom four were discharged after a day and one after three days. No material damage or environmental harm was registered.
“H2S is a highly toxic gas. The dispersion analysis that was performed shows that the personnel were exposed to potentially fatal concentrations. Under slightly different conditions, one or more of the exposed persons could therefore have died.”
The PSA investigation found “several” regulatory breaches, including deficient management of activities, resources, processes and competence.
The investigation also found deficiencies in the shift rota scheme and shift changes, and deficiencies in the management and execution of emergency response actions.
The PSA has told Statoil to implement the necessary measures to avoid a repeat of the incident.
The deadline for compliance is June 1.
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