No plans to move fuel depot following fire

| 30/08/2017 | 37 Comments

(CNS): The planning minister has confirmed that the government has no immediate plans to move the fuel tank storage facility at Jackson Point in South Sound, George Town, despite heightened concerns following what could have been a catastrophic fire in one of the tanks last month. Joey Hew told the Legislative Assembly during the recent meeting that a probe into the cause of the blaze was now well underway under the supervision of the new utilities watchdog, OfReg, in partnership with the Cayman Islands Fire Service but there were no results yet.

Hew said that the investigators had begun collecting information but now had to wait until the bulk fuel supplier, SOL, which owns the facility, empties the tank so they can get inside to inspect it. 

Answering questions from opposition members, Minister Hew explained that there was no formal plan in the works to move the facility. He pointed to consideration given to a possible relocation by the previous planning minister, Kurt Tibbetts, and his proposal to examine the idea of establishing a new fuel depot in East End, which Hew said was not at all popular.

The fuel depot is located in the heart of a growing residential community and very close to several schools, and public concern has been mounting for several years. However, the issue of relocation is challenging, not just logistically but because the site is owned by the oil company and the government will not easily be able to force the move even if a more suitable and acceptable location could be found.

Hew said that since the blaze, Hazard Management Cayman Islands has been reviewing and surveying the community and is in the process of revising the protocols regarding a potential disaster there.

The fire started in the late afternoon of Sunday, 23 July, in the interior walls of a full fuel storage tank. Firefighters fought the blaze for some eight hours in an heroic effort, containing and eventually dosing the burning tank while keeping it away from the fuel and keeping the tank itself cool. Residents within a 1,000-foot exclusion zone were evacuated until the early hours of the morning.

Public concerns were raised in the wake of the fire that notification had been slow, and while government had used its own social media channels to inform the public of the unfolding disaster, they had not contacted the regular media and there was no information broadcast on the government TV station or Radio Cayman.

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Comments (37)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    They welded on a tank that was half full of fuel! Welding on tanks require them to be empty and clean. That’s what happened. Stupid.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not exactly, API permits hot work on a vessel if it purged with an inert gas such as argon or nitrogen. Whilst sampling the atmosphere inside the tank to verify inertness hot work such as welding may commence. The tank dose not necessayhave to be empty. Sounds to me like the “Cowboy” contractor didn’t do this prior to welding. Either way someone signed off on behalf of SOL on the Permit to Work. Usually the method of work is clearly outlined on this form. That said, it may well be that SOL and the contractor are equally complicit in this case.

  2. Sharkey says:

    On 31/08/2017 , 8:49am , Anonymous wrote a very disturbing comment of how Government are thinking and developing the Islands .

    I think that it is very careless and stupid and negligent for Govt to have allowed those pipeline to be ran underground under apartment buildings and continue to let it exists in place .

    There are so many negative aspects to this situation is hard to explain them all .
    Just look at the pipeline been run underground, there’s no way to physically inspect the outside of the pipeline, put under the apartment building.

    What if that pipeline burst and exploded and cause a fire ? And many lives are lost .
    I believe that this should be another reason why Government should take a serious look at the fuel inforstructure situation to minimize the potential dangers to humans lives .

    Why didn’t Government and Companies buy the property that those pipelines are run on , and put above ground with all safety features in place . Or just truck the fuels to those Companies as needed .

    • Anonymous says:

      A) the piplines were there first
      B) the piplines are no active pipelines under the building any longer

  3. Anonymous says:

    Investigation in Caymanian means stalling until everyone forgets about it or dies of old age. Which ever comes first.

  4. Anonymous says:

    They are going to do what third world countries always do. As close to nothing as possible. Expect no measurable changes.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Everyone expecting some revolutionary change in location and truth about what happened at SOL terminal will be sadly disappointed when the investigation is finished. Too many conflicts of interest and collusion will keep the lid on what really happened.

    That said my advice to anyone wanting answers and positive change is to simply Keep Calm and Realize You’re SOL!

  6. Anonymous says:

    It will be empty soon.
    “The biggest fuel system in the United States is temporarily shutting down its main line because of outages at its supply points from Tropical Storm Harvey and a lack of supply from refiners.”

  7. Anonymous says:

    No easy answers here. The terminals would have to be relocated to somewhere else on the lee-side of the island so perhaps Spotts or further east. Anywhere it goes on the coast there are residential areas that would affected. Government would have to compensate these homeowners for their loss of property value.

    The best place for this type of thing would be in the airport industrial park rather than in a residential area. Problem here is that the boats would have to access via north sound which would be an environmental challenge.

    One key question. South Sound is one of the wealthier areas of the island. The property owners all bought their homes there knowing full well the fuel terminal were there. Anyone reasonable would assume there was always a risk here. we didnt need a fire to bring this to our attention – it only reinforces the point. The real question here is how much of any relocation effort should be paid for by South Sound residents. Why should it be solely Governents responsibility when the residents willingly took on this risk when they purchased property?

    • Veritas says:

      Tell me 10.32am, do other Governments/ Planning Boards grant planning permission for residential development right next to fuel storage tanks?. That act in itself explains why Government should be solely responsible for any relocation.

      • Anonymous says:

        3p Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. In a free society it’s not government’s job to make good decisions for the population. People need to be responsible for their actions.

        As long as they weren’t mislead in any way the responsibility lies with the SC residents who chose to live there. I’m OK with government helping out but not shouldering the whole burden.

        By your same argument government should be solely responsible for all lung cancer treatment costs because they allow cigarettes to be sold in Cayman.

  8. Veritas says:

    Some years ago Govt recd a consultant’s report on the Propane facility recommending it be moved to a less populated area. What did they do?, give permission to increase the propane storage capacity at the existing location by several hundred per cent.Guess who was on the Planning Board?.

    • Anonymous says:

      CIG just sold them more crown land to expand.

    • Anonymous says:

      Once in while CIG and private entities too get a consultant who they can ‘work with’ and sometimes they get consultants who stick their guns and don’t care if they get another job here. The latter actually tell it how it is, don’t lie as advised by their clients and report the truth. Sadly the latter aren’t regarded highly in Cayman anymore and so it goes.

  9. Anonymous says:

    It’s not just the fuel depot silos at Jackson’s Point, but the two substantial underground petroleum pipelines running separately to CUC and the airport and a gas line to Home Gas.

    “According to a March 2004 risk management report done by the Advantage Risk Solutions consulting company, major concerns were identified about the fact that the two fuel lines – one 4 inches in diameter and the other 8 inches – run underneath a multi-unit apartment building that was apparently constructed over the fuel lines.”

    “This is clearly not an acceptable situation,” Advantage Risk Solutions President Phillip Myers wrote in a 31 March, 2004 memo. “There are obvious risks with the potential for pipeline failures and releases of diesel fuel or aviation jet fuel under, into and around the apartment building and subsequent hydrocarbon contamination or fire.

    “Further, the result of inspections of the diesel pipeline…using a mechanical ‘pig’ indicated that a deformation in the pipeline exists at the location of the apartment building site. This is
    probably the result of damage during construction activities.”

    CUC apparently relocated their diesel pipeline in Nov/Dec 2009, but the Aviation fuel pipeline presumably remains. “Should an incident occur before the pipelines are re-routed, the chief petroleum inspector, the legal department and government may be required to explain why the consultant’s advice was not heeded,” the internal audit team stated in its report. “Such an event could potentially increase the government’s legal exposure.”

  10. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps there shouldn’t be any new building going on in the area. The tanks have been there. Anyone building or moving to the area are taking the chance on something catastrophic happening and shouldn’t cry bout it later. Move the schools, govt buy up all the homes in the area, and no new buildings. That’s the only answer other than sucking it up and hoping nothing further happens. There will always be a potential for disaster to strike. Every day on the road you have morons overtaking like crazy forcing oncoming traffic off the road. Should we take all the cars away????? Tanker trucks are a potential disaster, natural gas, boating, jet skis,etc.
    Live and adapt. Hope nothing ever happens again but if it does pray the fire service can handle it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Too late. “Developer Michael Ryan aims to bring Ritz-level luxury to residential market”.
      “..will be a four-story, 36-unit development on South Church Street.”

    • Anonymous says:

      The tanker trucks are running amok with impunity and have multiplied in recent years.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It would take YEARS to move the fuel terminals. Instead of wasting years on that idea, spend the same amount of time and effort moving to renewable energy.

    (Yes, I know there will always be a need for the fuel terminals for the foreseeable future)

  12. Anonymous says:

    It needs to be moved to industrial park. Open up the North Sound and dredge the shit out of it!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Bodden Town would be the ideal location.

    • Diogenes says:

      Of course instead of dealing with the problem where it is move it out of sight and out of mind by moving it to BT, ridiculous, deal with the problem where it is and make it sustainable don’t just push it under the rug and close your eyes, not having a solution is not justification for moving it, the tourists can see it on their cruise ships and out of plane windows, good that means the government is pressured to HANDLE it not move it and pretend it doesn’t exist

  14. Anonymous says:

    Even if Govt’ was able to mandate a fuel terminal re-location, just where do they think you can move a sea port fuel terminal that requires unloading from ships in the +60,000 ton range , requiring +30 feet water depth , in calm seas? Then, what do they propose to do with the pipeline to the airport? What do they propose to do with the propane gas pipeline to Walkers Rd? Any talk of developing the East End fuel terminal option is in fantasy land. Jackson Point is and will remain the fuel terminal location into the distant future.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds very similar to what the cruise ship dock is. How about building the new mega cruiser dock out east and address the fuel terminal at the same time in the same place.

  15. Anonymous says:

    How many times has the dump has caught on fire and nothing been done about it? How does anyone expect government to relocate a fuel depot when they can’t even take care of their own trash?

    • The removal of the dump and fuel terminal should be a far higher priority for the CIG than the cruise berthing facility. The CIG needs to get their priorities right. We have 2 potential disasters in our midst and the lesson of Hurricane Harvey in Texas over the past week, should be closely observed by decision makers. A Hurricane Harvey could happen here one day, so let’s wake up and get our priorities correct before it is too late.

      • Anonymous says:

        We had our hurricane Harvey. It was called Ivan. Hope it doesn’t happen again but it could. Another reason why government should hold on to its undeveloped land, might need it for schools. Better to be safe than sorry but who is planning that far down the road?

        • Anonymous says:

          might need it for a new Dump when another Ivan or Harvey hits and everything ends up being totaled.

  16. Sharkey says:

    How intelligent and smart . Can make it known that there’s no plans to move the fuel terminals. And knows that the area of the terminals are fast becoming populated . But don’t at this point how the fire was started or the cause of the fire .

    How long does it take to do an investigation of this sort ? How long has it been since the tank fire ? To me I think that this is all the public will ever hear about that fuel tank fire until the real disaster happen. I pray that it don’t happen . If the decision is made to not relocate the terminals, then they should be replaced . Because I think that the life of the steel those tanks are made of is expired . Maybe that was the cause of the fire , patching the tank.

    I think that if this Government was smart and cared about the Citizens of the Island , they would consider investing into a new fuel terminals instead of a cruise ship berthing .

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