Sol’s early review of tank fire inconclusive

| 28/07/2017 | 30 Comments

(CNS): The local bulk fuel supplier has apologised to the Cayman people for the dangerous fire in a petroleum tank at the Jackson Point Terminal last Sunday. Sol Cayman Limited said that an initial investigation into what happened was inconclusive because it also requires an internal physical inspection of the tank, which must be fully emptied and ventilated before it can be safely entered. Officials said this could take several weeks, though the tank has now been effectively quarantined.

“Sol sincerely apologises for the inconvenience caused by this incident and commits to reviewing its safety work procedures with employees and contractors to ensure that an incident such as this does not recur,” the company stated in a release Thursday, some five days after the frightening blaze.

Attempting to play down the danger that was posed by the fire inside the diesel tank, the firm said in a release that the “fire had no direct contact with the product in the tank which was at a much lower level” and that its staff and the fire service responded promptly to confine the blaze preventing an escalation.

“There was no damage to the terminal and surrounding areas,” the release stated. “The area was evacuated as a precautionary measure and the access to South Church Street was closed, both in line with the emergency response plan and with the collaboration of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. Sol’s focus and commitment is to the safety of its employees, contractors and the community, as such, the terminal resumed normal delivery operations on Monday morning, only after safety checks and inspections were completed.”

Sol said it would work closely with the government inspectors and agencies’ industry professionals to determine the root cause of the incident and will “share the investigation findings as they become available”.

Alan Neesome, the general manager at the fuel company, said the firm realised that the fire had “caused anxiety within our community and our immediate neighbours. We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused related to this incident and remain committed to the safety of our community, employees and contractors. We want to reassure the Cayman community that there is no disruption to fuel supplies, and deliveries are being made to our customers as normal.”

The company touted its past safety record, stating that it had been part of the Grand Cayman and South Church Street community since 1960 when the terminal was first constructed.

Sol has not experienced a “Lost Time Incident since February 1994”, the company said, meaning that no employee or contractor has missed a minute of work due to a workplace incident for 23 years. To achieve this record, Sol said, it “maintains a robust health, safety and environment policy with an established Goal Zero programme, meaning zero incidents and no harm to people”.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    From a close nearby resident:

    The tank was burning for 2 hours before they sent police out to tell us residents to evacuate. That is unacceptable! Residents should have been notified immediately to evacuate!

    The word out on the road in front of the tanks nearby with some of the by-standing residents looking on in the immediate time was that it was a welder working on the tank that caused the fire. That was not a rumour construed later on, that was what was being told at the time right out there on the street in real time as it was burning in the beginning.

    Obviously SOL will not give us residents refunds for hotel accommodations because it would prove their guilt. They obviously are trying to figure out with their lawyers how to hide the truth that a welder working on the tank caused the fire so as to not be in alot of trouble and be sued. And oh, God forbid, now their perfectly clean track record of safety is now tainted. They should be mature enough to accept that and not sulk over it at the cost of all the surrounding residents and the whole island for that matter. Accidents happen, man up and own your faults SOL!

    Also, i have done research and diesel doesn’t have fumes that blow up like gas. You can out a cigarette in diesel with no problem. So they were not wrong for working on the upper part of the tank, obviously they had it planned and waited until they sold enough of the diesel out of the tank to a low level that they could work on it and fix the rust hole or whatever the problem was in the upper part of the tank But what backfired on them was the small upper structural support “lip-rim” inside that holds a fragment of diesel in it caught on fire, that caught them by surprise. Luckily the fire didn’t fall into the lower part of the tank. And in all due respect and honour to all the brave firemen and firewoman that put their life on the lines to prevent it to not fall and spread into the lower part of the tank. Without them, God only knows what would have happened! Many thanks to them!

    Rumour has it that the Manager of SOL at the terminal is also part owner of the welding company.

    I saw a few years ago when Rubis took down a whole tank and reconstructed a new one. So welding is not an issue on these terminal sites. These terminal sites are very safe, there is no fumes coming from the tanks, and all the lines/pipes are highly inspected and well maintained. But welding on a tank that is holding fuel in it is a huge problem. They should have waited until all the diesel was sold out of the tank and do a proper cleaning out of the diesel from the lips, everywhere, before they welded to repair it and not take the chance even though it’s diesel and yes it’s very hard to get diesel to ignite, but the problem with diesel is once it ignites, it’s very very difficult to almost impossible to out it. Gas is much easier ignite and to out than diesel, but gas has alot of fumes so of course is no joke when it ignites, because it’s an explosion with force. They would not have done that on a gas tank, they only took that chance on a diesel tank, but those lips they forgot about, or didn’t think they would catch on fire.

    Too bad too sad, i do agree they have a perfect track record of safety until this incident, but let this be a wake up call for a very very bad mistake that could have cost thousands of people their lives and homes. No joke. No more mistakes SOL! No more taking chances and taking the short cut! Do everything the right way from now on, no more wrong ways and crazy chance taking! It takes a spark to start a fire SOL, man up and own up! And refund us for hotel accommodations!

    Even though it is us here off South Church Street and off Walker’s Road would have felt the most repercussions, but the devastation would have deeply affected the economy and mental health of the whole Cayman Islands, because it would have been catastrophic. And it could have set off Rubis tanks too if they all caught on fire! Then Cayman where you gonna get your gas from to drive your cars to work, etc and for CUC to run power? This would have caused an island wide state of emergency, not just South Church Street and Walker’s Road!

    Could Government be allowing SOL to not have to put forth the reason, because there could be so much law suits filed against SOL and possibly against the Government too for this? Makes one really wonder why won’t they tell the simple truth of what caused the fire (a spark, fires don’t start without sparks)?

    Could it be a joint effort cover up between Government and SOL is taking place?

    And you know how it go, the rich always win! And Government always kisses up to the rich!

    Just another day in Paradise Cayman!

    What happened is an unfortunate accident with a bad decision to take a risk that backfired. But moving forward, the truth needs to be told and residents need compensation, do the right thing SOL! (and Government)! And no more risk taking!

    And please give the firemen and firewoman a good bonus for the incredible risk of their lives that they sacrificed to help save the nearby residents and the whole entire Country from what could have been a terrible catastrophic and devastating destruction and tragedy. I’m sure they will receive medals of honour for this in all due respect to them! God Bless them so much for their courage and selfless sacrifice to protect us!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sol’s statement stinks like a dead rat. Where’s the official statement from OfReg’s former Petroleum Inspectorate chief? Oh I nearly forgot, the petroleum companies are self regulating, that’s why they can get away with these third world safety practices.

    On another note, I hear there are some cheap properties for sale within eyeshot of Jackson Point Terminal. Sol, you might want to take note of this so you can expand your blast radius.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Will the real Petroleum Inspector please stand up?

  4. Anonymous says:

    That tank has 14,000 barrels or 588,000 gallons of diesel which has been tainted by the fire and the foam that was sprayed on it. That’s a million+ dollar loss for Sol… unless people are foolish enough to continue buying it. I for one will not be putting any Sol diesel in my vehicle again.

  5. Answers says:

    This is completely unacceptable. As a Country we are too passive and readily accept nonsense. The marketing spin above presents absolutely no facts on to what caused the fire and what steps will be taken to mitigate further risks. They only care about their profits so it is Government’s job to get to the bottom of this and ensure that the punishment is swift and strict to avoid this company and the other of the consequences of cutting corners. I think the editors of all our newspapers need to keep the pressure up on this issue and that not yet another major issue is just swept under the rug as business as usual continues. It also painfully highlights that Government were in no shape or form prepared for an accident of this potential significant magnitude.

  6. Anonymous says:

    These companies have raped the country for years. If the word on the marl road is true about welding being the source of the fire then they should be fined a hefty sum.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Do anyone really believe they will give the facts to what really went wrong. Private investigation.

  8. Adelaide Suser says:

    Cayman seems to be asleep. Look! We are post 9/11 and sleeper cells have told the world that they are out there. They don’t give a rats ass about their lives and will sabotage your water system, your fuel depots, your various infrastructures.
    You had better all secure and lock up these things that we take for granted.
    Stay alert and protect and pray for each other.

  9. Robert says:

    These tanks are in a residential neighborhood. This was ok when Cayman was a naive and sleepy lil place with a few thousand mosquitoes and a few lil quiet and ole fashioned Caymanians. Well, Cayman has grown and it has 60,000 people and it is Miami South.
    This Company needs to be told that their tanks should be placed elsewhere. It is an oil company for Pete’s sake. Not a lil lemonade stand. They need to move their big ass 1960s overscale, dangerous tanks elsewhere and slowly and quickly phase out the rust buckets!
    Get with the program Sol and move it!
    Also, CIG? Get with the times and have your amber alerts up and running in conjunction with Radio Cayman. Everyone should have received beeps on their cell phones and text systems and should have had constant instructions coming out on radio.
    What if this was a hurricane, terrorist attack or other emergency? Prepare and don’t be caught next time with most of the people affected not being told what was going on.
    The amber alert system also advises of stolen cars, missing prisioners or any information that should be disseminanted quickly.
    Folks, do speak up because some of our politicians will not.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good luck with Hazared Management on that.

    • Dreamer. says:

      I have a suggestion.

      Use the 300 million we are talking about spending on a cruse ship dock for a new cargo port elsewhere. Make it large enough to dock the oasis class cruise ships. As it is a cargo dock, it should also be able to facilitate larger fuel tankers. (lower cost fuel as well.) Let the oil companies know they will be moving closer to this new facility as that is where it belongs.

      George Town docks can be dedicated to tendering cruise ship traffic and a small refit to allow for berthing of yaghts large and small.

      The result. A revitalisation of George Town. A safer environment for the citizens. A better cruise ship visitor experience. The ability to handle Oasis class ships and spreading the passenger load over different facilities.

      I’m sure there will be a lot of nay sayers and people pointing out why it cannot be done. What we need here are people to think of how to get things done in better ways than we have done before.

      • Cathy says:

        Someone tried that a few years ago but our good friend NIMBY said “hell no” event though tthe location was not in a residential area.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Typical private sector response. At least the government admits when it’s wrong.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cept for big mak.

    • Anonymous says:

      Apparently they were welding on the tanks!

      • Bob Townsend says:

        Yeah 5:30. Word on the street has it they were welding and sparks were flying. The s….. would be hitting the fan if the gasoline had caught a spark. The town would be fried to a crisp and then what. Speak out 5:30. In a small place everyone has heard and knows. Politics again so just hope the other three that are too darn close together do not catch on fire.
        You cant have welding with sparks around fuel. Hello. Low IQs are not excuses for this.
        No welding!!!!! You will have lives lost if there is an explosion of any or all of those tanks. Stop the denial and excuses Sol. Relocate now!!!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    What about refunding residents who had to spend the night in a hotel, for which Sol was solely responsible.

    • Sharkey says:

      4:05pm , No they won’t because that would be admitting guilt and they don’t want to do that . They have to be forced to do it , but I agree they should reimburse them .

    • Anonymous says:

      Why?? The tanks were there long before the residents.

  12. Anonymous says:

    You have to wonder about Sol. Its tanks look shabby and rusty compared to the ones over at Rubis. Makes you wonder if corners are being cut.

    If only we had an effective regulator to monitor this industry!

  13. Sharkey says:

    Sol must believe that the People of Cayman islands are fool’s, for them to say that the fire didn’t have no direct contact with the product the diesel that was in the tank , because the fuel was at a lower level . What caused that fire to take so long to be put out completely ? All the diesel that was in the tank .
    Sol should stop playing with the safety of people lives , and make their safety first because the amount of gasoline and diesel that they store in those tanks are nothing to play with or lie about .

    • Anonymous says:

      no contact with fuel in the rank ? didn’t know steel could burn so long on its own quite interesting

    • Anonymous says:

      Your out of your depth here Sharkey. You can see the heat marks from the road.
      If the product was on fire the heat marks would have been everywhere above the product. Look at the infrared pho from the helicopter.

      Also there would be much more smoke (there was hardly any) and trust me the evacuation area would have been larger due to the risk to the structural integrality of the vessel.

      Simple logic rather than complete dribble.
      Next thing you will be posting a photo on social media of a tank fire in Africa.

    • Anonymous says:

      You must be amazing to be so smart and more knowledgable than the responsible persons.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are internal beams inside some tanks which act like sills for fuel to collect even when a tank is empty. Sounds like this might be a possibility but this can’t be easily checked from the outside unless there are documents showing where these beams are in the tank. Sol should not have any wiggle room in this decision. OfReg needs to demand the immediate draining and venting of the tank to allow investigations to proceed as a matter of urgency. The surrounding residents I’m sure want answers, closure, long term and short term solutions that will mitigate future risk.

      • Bob Townsend says:

        I 22 exactly and like yesterday!!!!
        They need to move and now.
        Further, residents should picket the tanks and have the media show these picketers.
        This is serious.

      • Anonymous says:

        Immediate draining?
        Maybe they can just pipe it into south sound.
        It contaminated fuel, it needs to wait for the ship to come back to take it on board.

        • Anonymous says:

          Soot can be filtered out with appropriate filters, it does not have to go to waste. Does Rubis or CUC have room in their tanks for the filtered diesel? Sounds like a convenient stall tactic saying they can drain the tank.

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