Sol fined $200k over fuel tank blaze

| 19/09/2018 | 45 Comments
Cayman News Service

Fire at Sol fuel depot, 23 July 2017

(CNS): Sol Petroleum Limited has been fined just CI$200,000 plus costs of CI$86,700 by the utilities regulator in connection with the dangerous fuel tank blaze at the Jackson Point Terminal last summer. Sol has accepted responsibility and paid the administrative fine, which the Utility Regulation and Competition Office (OfReg) said reflected the potentially serious nature of the blaze and the concerns raised in the community, but recognised Sol’s history “as a good corporate citizen” as well as its transparency and full cooperation with the investigation.

The fire inside a nearly full fuel tank proved to be a huge challenge for fire fighters, who managed to contain and eventually extinguish the flames under very difficult conditions.

OfReg said “an exhaustive investigation” had been conducted, and both they and Sol were satisfied that they had identified the circumstances and contributing factors leading to the fire.

OfReg said that the public could be reassured that “where applicable, lessons have been learnt, shortcomings addressed and measures put in place to guard against any possibility of a repetition of the incident in the future, including an agreement that there shall not be any welding conducted on in-service fuel storage tanks”. This, according to earlier findings, was the cause of the blaze.

OfReg said that, as the multi-sector regulator in the Cayman Islands covering fuels, water, energy and ICT, it takes its responsibility as a protector of the public with regards to these areas seriously.

Duke Munroe, Acting CEO and Director of Fuels (Market), said OfReg’s mandate was to enforce relevant codes, standards and best practices adopted under the Dangerous Substances Law.

“We have worked closely with Sol to go over mitigation factors that will reduce the risks of similar incidents taking place in the future and they (Sol) have already implemented some measures relating to incident.”

Sol has already paid the fine and the investigation costs, and OfReg said it will continue to work with
Sol and the rest of the oil and gas sector to implement the recommendations arising from the investigation to ensure that the industry is consistently meeting minimum standards of safety and compliance.

The fine, which may be considered relatively small given the circumstances, comes at a time the regulator is under pressure to tackle more of what the public believes are a number of unfair practices by utility providers.

The report about the fire, made public in April, identified a number of safety and procedural breaches by Sol and found that the petroleum firm had not taken all reasonable precautions for the prevention of the fire.

At the time of the fire dozens of residents in the South Sound area were evacuated from their homes while firefighters battled the blaze in extremely dangerous conditions for around eight hours. Although no one was hurt, the incident caused significant concern, given the environmental circumstances and the fact that the tank contained well over half a million imperial gallons of ultra low sulphur diesel (ULSD).

OfReg chairs in near punch-up over CEO job

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Category: Business, Private Sector Oversight, utilities

Comments (45)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We have no other place to put inustrial infrastructure except in the Central Mangrove. I believe it would be the best place to have a new industrial zone instead of Agricultural. But alas the environmentalists will be the first to protect the mosquitoes.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s a good thing the refinery was never built. You people would have stroked out over the thought of it.

  3. Cayman Sparrow says:

    200K what a real joke that is? That amount did not even cover the resources and expenses of Fire Dept and police services that were used.What about the contractor involved was he fined or prosecuted for his obvious negligence and endangering the entire island. Oh i like that part 200k reflected the seriousness of the blaze by OfReg Can Mr “DUKE” Monroe tell us who was fired from SOL??? and you notice the wording of their statement “accepted responsibility” does not say “Full responsibility” aaah Boy Cayman the Eastern Caribbean invasion is full gear now CNB next ??? What a real shame is going on in our little place eh?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Not the first time something like this has happened and been covered up! Dont understand how anyone can think its ok to weld on a tank with fuel in it. Also i heard that the fire suppression systems not working at any of the terminals.

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    • Ron Ebanks says:

      What I have noticed that some people try to write their comments as soon as the article is published , but as soon as the article is droped down the page , all interest in the topic has vanished from the issue . Why is that ? Do we know that the more a topic is discussed the better chances we would have a full understanding of , and solve the problem , but not if just talk about it a little bit .

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    • Anonymous says:

      200k is ridiculous. Suggest 500k PLUS A 5,000,000 PENALTY SUSPENDED FOR 5 YEARS TO ENSURE THEY SHAPE UP

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Another example I can provide for my new historical book of Cayman called “how to survive knowing your are a complete idiot” with the prologue “dumb friends in high places”

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  5. Michel says:

    It is high time that the tanks are replaced and removed from South Sound residential district to an unpopulated aera. This is a tragedy waiting to happen.

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  6. Ron Ebanks says:

    Maybe we should tell OFReg , to make sure that we the people are not paying this fine , or we will make sure OFReg is desolved .

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    • Anonymous says:

      I dont know how you go about making sure that the fine is not passed on to the customer. But I would say the only way to make sure is to use another station such as reFuel.

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      • Ron Ebanks says:

        9:15 am , by OFReg making sure that all of SOL’s reasons for increasing prices are true and not false . Then OFReg would be doing it’s job , protecting the consumer YOU the PEOPLE. That’s part of their job I would have to believe .

        CNS , can you please verify how many commodities are under control of OFReg ? I would appreciate the answer feedback, because it is important for the consumer to know that one entity is controlling everything , that’s dangerous for the PEOPLE .

        CNS: Ron, OfReg doesn’t control anything – it’s there to make sure that certain private sector businesses stick to the rules laid out by laws and regulations. If you have a look at the website here, there are links on the menu bar to ICT, Energy, Fuel and Water – the commodities OfReg regulates. The dropdown menu for each commodity has a link to “Licensing”, which will at some stage list each business licensed to trade in that commodity. The only one completed at this stage is “Energy”.

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        • Ron Ebanks says:

          CNS , thanks for the link and the answer feedback , and that OFReg doesn’t control any of the commodities . I should have said regulates .
          I still thinks that it is dangerous for OFReg to be regulating so many entities of the economy . As of now only one of the commodities are completed “Energy”. What is the definition of Energy ? Can all other commodities be included /classified as Energies ?

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  7. Ron Ebanks says:

    See what happens when the over trained CEO are let go . How long did this fine take to come to conclusion . Shows that the over qualified heads were not the ones for job .

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  8. Anonymous says:

    So, no welding on storage tanks that are in use.

    I’m pretty sure your average village idiot could have provided such sage advice.

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    • Kettle Black says:

      I’m quite sure that the Chief Fuel Negulator knows that welding on partially filled tanks is done regularly in other jurisdictions, or maybe not? He won’t admit or report that Sol was flat out negligent in allowing their Jerry Rigging contractor to circumvent proper procedure by not “inerting” the tank beforehand. Nor will he admit to negligence in spot checking suppliers and contractors compliance with accepted fuels industry practices and safety procedures.

      All necessary equipment is locally available; a few cylinders of nitrogen or argon, a working, calibrated gas meter and time, but competence isn’t or so it seems. Oh I almost forgot, this type of work should be performed, supervised by and checked by trained, competent personnel usually certified by American Petroleum Institute or its European counterpart, this is not a job for the average grease monkey.

      One would think those involved might learned by the many near misses over the years but they carry on business as usual. The fines are just a slap on the wrist. Those grease monkeys, their boss, the enablers at Sol and Chief Fuel Negulator still have their jobs. We still live in peril and the circus goes on. Our leaders have chosen to primarily use fossil fuels for the decades to come so competence, standards and operating procedures have to drastically improve or we will lose lives.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    When are we going to move the disaster that may happen? Thank God it didn’t blow up South Church Street to Triple C and everything around it. Wake up people?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Where are you suggesting it be moved to?

      • Anonymous says:

        We need to open up the west side of the North Sound and dredge it to give cargo and fuel tankers access directly to industrial park.

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        • Anonymous says:

          No

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          • Anonymous says:

            Take some time to think about it and I’m sure you’ll see it makes perfect sense.

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            • Anonymous says:

              To move the giant explosives from one side of George Town to the other? That’s your solution? And you thought about it for how long? Remember, the original post assumes that if the fuel tanks blow up they’re going to take out all the way to Triple C, so really no where in the western half of Grand Cayman is ‘safe’ according to una.

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        • Mike says:

          STOP AND THINK 8.52 am! If you were to open up a ship sized channel into the North Sound, you would immediately upset totally the tidal flow in and out of the sound and the consequences could be devastating. Water flows over the reef at high tide and always flows out of the channels, and / or goes sideways to Barkers etc. You cannot mess with that! The whole sea bed of the sound would head for the channel! CUC cable and all!

      • Anonymous says:

        Central Mangrove area away from schools, churches, hospital etc,etc. where would you suggest? You probably don’t see a problem where it is?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Jolly funds for the boys!! Come on private sector board do your job.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Anyone fired or are all management still in place. Thought so.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    There’s a few overseas trips for OfReg

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  11. Anonymous says:

    What about compensation to the residents who had to leave their homes?

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    • Hafoo says:

      You should be thanking God,nothing bad happen;go give your tides to a church and stop chasing money.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t give money to a church….

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      • Anonymous says:

        It’s not about chasing money it’s about holding the organisation accountable for the fact that this incident affected many home owners . Many of which were displaced from their homes. Until these organisations are held accountable the public will continue to get the short straw.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’d be rallying my fellow residents in the evacuated zone to file a class action against Sol, the contractor and OfReg. That just might motivate all parties to not ever let anything like this happen again!

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    • Bertie : B says:

      Guess the residents are S.O.L.

    • Flamethrower says:

      7.45pm If you asked for it and produced receipts in triplicate for hotel stays and signed a 50 page disclaimer undertaking not to sue or make any other claims in the next 150 years you got your hotel expenses back within 3 months.

  12. Anon says:

    What is outrageous is that Cayman still has no Amber Alert on phones to alert the entire island in case of emergency potentials.
    Is that not true CNS?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Got my third text in an hour from my isp advertising their awesome deal of extra credit for a day.

      But can’t receive an emergency alert text. Smh.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Exactly, service providers can arrange for texts from paid sponsors but they can’t arrange a simple mass broadcast system

        More of the CIGs’ “Soon come” mentality

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    • Anonymous says:

      Amber alerts are for child abduction.

      • Anonymous says:

        And we don’t even have that lol

      • Anon says:

        Hello 939. Amber alerts are for emergencies. If all of South Sound might have blown up, do you think this was a situation where the entire island should have been alerted?
        People moving from area.
        Cars avoiding the area.
        Emergency vehicles entering area and given priority.
        CNS.
        Could you please let us know when an amber like system will be put in for the island’s phones?

        CNS: We will tell you when we know. Don’t hold your breath.

    • Anonymous says:

      What, you smell gas? Anyone?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Not enough

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  14. Anonymous says:

    What a joke.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Lol, trying to recoup some travel expenses.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    A cost that will simply be passed down the pipeline to the consumers

    The people of the Cayman Islands will be footing this bill on way or another due to the negligence of a private entity
    Convenient little system we have set up here in Cayman
    Businesses are never really held accountable for their actions, at the end of the year the ledger will still be in the same state it has always been in
    No real consequences until people are dead and it’s too late for “sorry” and “ny bad”

    So glad we have OfReg…

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