Rusted Rubis tank leaked over 3,686 gallons of diesel

| 10/05/2021 | 72 Comments
Cayman News Service
Rubis tank that leaked (from report)

(CNS): A rusty storage tank at Jackson Point suffered a “bottom plate failure resulting from severe rust and degradation due to corrosion”, which was preventable, according to an independent investigation report into a spill at the Rubis terminal in South Sound in November 2019. The report, which has been acquired by CNS, shows that the fuel supplier was aware as far back as 2013 that the tank needed to be repaired before the major leak occurred. OfReg revealed the fuel spill in March last year, over three months after the leak, but it has failed to release the report into what happened, written by Spenergy, the US consultants contracted to investigate the incident.

The report outlines the list of failings that led to the leak, which could have been avoided if the fuel supplier had carried out the necessary repairs. It indicates that numerous procedures, training, quality control, management systems (such as standards, policies, and administrative controls), communications, human engineering, equipment design, human performance difficulties and work direction all played a part in the leak.

However, the root cause identified by the investigators was the bottom plate failure. They said that during each of the annual Cathodic Protection Annual Surveys dating back to 2013, Rubis was told that action was needed to protect the tank and that it did not meet industry standards. According to the report, the Rubis management team told Spenergy that they were “unable to secure appropriate assistance and/or support from Contractors during these times in order to action items identified”, and no other information was provided to show if they had tried alternative measures to remedy the concerns.

A second cause of the leak was attributed to the failure by Rubis to do anything about the tank’s corrosion when the tank in question changed in July 2015 from holding high sulphur diesel to ultra low sulphur diesel. The consultants were given no information about how the change was managed and what measures were taken in accordance with industry practices for internal tank bottom inspections. Rubis said the tank needed to be placed back in service to receive fuel from an impending tanker that was waiting to off-load. As a result, the investigators concluded that no appropriate measures were taken to adequately prepare for the change of use.

The report found that Rubis staff were not appropriately trained, documentation was incomplete and it was not clear that “operations personnel appropriately understood as to when measurements were considered out of tolerance”, based on industry standards. Staff did not receive adequate training or had the competency development to adequately maintain and manage its tank protection system.

the consultants also identified a number of safeguarding failures, all of which led to the inevitable leak, which was spotted by a security guard around 8:30pm on the night of 15 November 2019 as he made his rounds of the fuel terminal. Having spotted the diesel continuously spreading across the ground on the western side of the tank, he called the contact numbers of the Rubis management. The security officer called several people before any of his calls were answered, and it was around half an hour before an administrator answered his call and then made contact with the Rubis operation team.

It took more than two days for the fuel in the leaking tank to be transferred and by that time at least 3,686 gallons spilled onto the terminal ground. It is not clear where the spill that was not cleaned up went.

The report issues a long list of recommendations but says nothing about the role of OfReg, which is responsible for the inspection of fuel storage, and whether or not it was aware of the failure by Rubis to address the corroded tank and what, if anything, the inspector had instructed the oil company to do.

There has been no indication from OfReg what, if any, sanctions will be imposed on Rubis.

In 2018 Sol Petroleum Limited was fined just CI$200,000 plus costs of CI$86,700 by the utilities regulator after a dangerous fuel tank fire at the same terminal in 2017.

See the report in the CNS Library.

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Category: Business, Fuel

Comments (72)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    In 1995 I was running a business in LA where we had a diesel spill – a leaky connection on an overhead pipe from a tank. Total spill was way less than this massive quantity – basically a leaky joint that wasn’t immediately detected rather than a catastrophic failure like this one – but under EPA regulation we had to get contactors in to do test drillings in the area of the spill to determine how far down through the soil and substrate the diesel had penetrated (it went a long way down BTW). We then had to pay contractors to extract the contaminated soil. Cost a fortune, but major fines and even criminal penalties if we didn’t comply. The EPA pointed out that if nothing was done the diesel and its volatile organic compounds like benzene and formaldehyde would just keep migrating through the ground until they ultimately ended up in the water table, at which point the situation would be irretrievable (and the fines WAY more expensive).

    In Cayman 20 years later you can apparently release an estimated 3700 gallons of diesel, and there are zero consequences for the company. Zero.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Water Authority here has the law to fine polluters here but I’ve only ever heard of one fine they levied. The DoE has fined cruise ship companies for destroying coral to the tune of $500k. Outside of this our fuel suppliers and some end users such as gas stations and heavy equipment fuel depots pollute our ground water with impunity. And when there’s a clean ordered , usually by the Water Authority and depending on the players involved the incident is more or less covered up. The polluter gets a slap on the wrist, with no real inquest, no heads ever roll, and no change in operations. So at the end of it you could argue that the Authorities, both the Water Authority, the regulator OfReg and the polluter are all complicit. I you would think that small islands such as Cayman would have some of the strictest environmental legislation and penalties in the world but in fact we operate like a third world jurisdiction in this regard. I don’t see this changing any time soon.

  2. Eleven 47 says:

    This nothing new on a recent telecoms project saw disposal of dangerous hazardous materials on several sites made a note photographed and reported concerns of contamination to OFREG and DEH bosses. They did not even had the decency to even reply to email. Yet these same individuals running around with their over inflated ego’s and salaries. Sad state of affairs right here in Cayman.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Shouldn’t have taken their love to town.

  4. jack Fuels says:

    ofReg fuel Inspectors risk their life while Senior manager at ofreg sit back and do nothing like DMatthew monroe one inspector waz injuried during this spil and in hospital fighten for his life so get your facts straight cayman public and cayman news service commenters / viewers

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds like your guy maybe didn’t have enough training/experience to avoid being hazarded? And really what scares me is it’s the blind leading the blind. Cayman has been to lucky for too long while living with decrepit infrastructure, lacklustre operation and lack of effective oversight. Fines are clearly not a deterrent to excuses. You can’t honestly say that OfReg have been doing their job by allowing the circus to go on for so long? This it not the first incident at the Rubis Terminal and it certainly won’t be the last.
      This news breaks and Rubis is proven to be a clown show. The place is simply not run to first world standards, safety is lacks, their primary maintenance contractor, same one that lit A Sol tank up, lacks the proper safety, trade skills and competencies to work at such a facility. Most of their recent Country Managers, and they’ve had a few over the last decade, recognise the potential risk and bailout before they have a real crisis to deal with.
      Hope this didn’t offend you but I’m sure you were aware of some things I’ve stated already? If you feel you don’t have adequate training or experience to manage the risk you’re taking then I’d seriously think about another job. And if you have the right touch I’m sure they’ll find another place for you.

    • Jumping Jack says:

      jack fuels How did this OfReg inspector injure himself and why did they not identify the corrosion risk in the first place. Is it because their main job is driving around all the gas stations each week to note the gas prices?.

  5. Rick says:

    I do not know how they get away with it. There are people in OfReg who have been working with government for over a decade and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars of loss to government without sanction. I find it difficult to understand how they keep getting appointed to even higher positions despite their incompetence and lies over the years. Unbelievable!

    • Anonymous says:

      The functions of the office of the Chief Fuels inspector are very clear. Why was this not dealt with in a timely manner? Is the health of our people not important?

  6. Anonymous says:

    SO one would think that OffReg will now (a) engage Spenergy to do a ‘full safety & best practice’ review of both fuel terminals. And then (b) require a corrective plan for any failings found, with due dates and penalties for non-compliance. While (c) immediately creating and enforcing such a plan for Rubis based on the findings of this report while the larger review is ongoing (so as not to delay identified necessary works). – Right.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wasn’t this an issue with Texaco as well? Literally the reason I didn’t use Texaco and the same goes for Rubis…

    Pure rust oxide 93 coming to a German car near you.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is criminal: Gross negligence is the extreme indifference to or reckless disregard for the safety of others.

    • Anonymous says:

      Gross negligence is used as a standard for criminal law. Under common law, criminal negligence is defined as a gross deviation from a reasonable standard of care. This is a higher standard than ordinary negligence under tort law.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Wayne Panton, Premier of the Cayman Islands, Members of PACT Cabinet, other Members of Parliament: Is this not enough to remove the Chairman of OfReg and the remainder of its worthless senior management??

    Please stop the Lodge control of SAGC Boards!!! Now!!

    • Anonymous says:

      And, OFREG’s Board members are the best paid of all the SAGCs!

      • Anonymous says:

        I find this interesting. I have great concerns about this incident and what might be classified as incompetence. Caymanians that are worth their salt dont volunteer because we make so much money in the private sector and those of us that do give up our time and sometimes our family, just get set upon and ridiculed. It is clear that OfReg has not been functioning properly for a while. XXXX Having said that, yes OFReg needs to be changed.

        CNS: I believe the comment literally meant that the OfReg board is the best paid – see stipends here.

  10. D. Truth says:

    Reading these comments show that the majority of Caymanians think OfReg sucks…. along with other failures in our government. Will our “new” political souls be stirred to make things better in the Cayman Islands? Time will tell……… It’s so damn tiring getting the “same old. same old” dumped on us by greedy politicians! Is anyone reading this? Does anyone care?

    • Anonymous says:

      It really is time that the Government of the Cayman Islands did the right thing….CARE for it’s people.Protect it’s people and stop the corruption that is making the Island a sorry state to live in.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry. The majority of the electorate voted for fools. They kept idiots in power. They kept a HS drop-out available to be the SPEAKER!!! How does this speak to the world??????????

      The Caymanian electorate is stupid, uneducated, and willing to be bought-off.

      We got what we elected. Our own d.n fault.

    • Anonymous says:

      Whilst I agree that OffReg does suck these comments are far from a random sample so using them to claim a majority of the wider population agree with us is invalid.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Incompetent idiots. OFFREG is a joke. Wayne please for God’s sake get rid of these useless boards and organizations.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Par for the course in the fossil fuel business … they make so much money that its acceptable to simply be fined and slapped on the wrist. Given their proximity to some of our pristine shore dive sites, its truly a pity that this has occurred and likely will continue.

  13. South Sounder says:

    OfReg is made up by C&W retired telephone techs and 1 or 2 engineers and washed up politician as the authority chairman…..What the hell do we expect. Rubis on the other hand is French company that’s being greased by our own regulatory body. My wise is for PACT (forget about that GTW and GTS reps) to drain their tanks and find proper replacement for the board and it’s lackie incompetence employees.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “It is not clear where the spill that was not cleaned up went.”

    LOL only in Cayman!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Shocking incompetence by Rubis, OffReg and the previous government. Our new government has to fix these system wide failures.Permission granted to clear the decks!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Quite concerning. This goes beyond environmental issues. This puts lives in immediate danger. Someone has to hold Of Reg and Rubis feet to the flames. What I am most interested in however was the lack of transparency. The gravity of the situation was shrouded in secretary for so long. Much like a conspiracy to cover up between Rubis and its regulator. Not a good look.

    • Anonymous says:

      Reading this bro the spill was in 2019. We all been affected since then. Not having known altogether. Can’t make this ish up….damn.

  16. Elvis says:

    Another example of everything is fine here until something happens.
    No a countability at all as usual.
    Reactive nit proactive i guess.

  17. Richard Wadd says:

    The relocation of the Fuel storage depots to a safer purpose-built location is long overdue. There are numerous health, safety, and environmental factors to support this. Also, this was not the first leak or major safety incident at Jackson point in recent times and we can’t keep dodging bullets forever. The cost of relocation is far less than what it will be if we continue to do nothing.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s why we won’t live near it. Disaster waiting to happen.

    • Anonymous says:

      The facilities were purpose built. This was a maintenance issue. (And not saying the purpose-built facilities couldn’t use some upgrading.) Though I agree that moving the people away from the fuel depots would make things safer.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wrong fool, the tanks should never have been allowed to be there in the first place, and it’s the tanks that need to move, not the entirety of the surrounding community.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I do hope and trust that Rubis is heavily fined for this leak, which appears to have not yet been assessed in regards to environmental damage. A full environmental impact assessment should be done and paid for by Rubis and submitted to the DOE and Rubis Head Office. That report should also be published.

    I am flabbergasted that a company of that size and financial ability, appears not to have a rigorous maintenance programme especially as they handled flammable and harzadous substances. It is absolutely careless and negligent and cheap.

    I am also not sure why Offreg do not have the power to mandate and force maintenance when a foreseeable catastrophe is going to happen. Heads at Rubis needs to roll. An utter disappointment and disgrace.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Sol 200,000 another joke that didn’t even cover the fire service overtime and all the difficult work they had to do what a friggin Joke! Of Reg needs to be shutdown Chairman put out to pasture Director returned to his native land with his the rinky dink fuel dubious inspector and all the rest fired our sent to Public Works to be of some use this so called regulator is a huge unregulated entity itself with huge expenditure and overheads depository for civil servants who nobody wants or have space for them.

    • Anonymous says:

      Same guy, eh! The guy that doesn’t know how to use punctuation.

      Use punctuation!!!!!!! Jeez. How hard is that?

      • 11 says:

        You the same guy concerned about my English , talk about a total tool. You do you bobo eh! How about give me a single dislike and get a friggin life!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Its past time to move these terminals too someplace else. What about the Central Mangrove area where they wanted to put the Waste Management facility?

  21. Anonymous says:

    incompetence around every corner…as we live in a place with no accountability….in a place where your nationality means you get the job rather than having proper qualifications.

    • Anonymous says:

      “.in a place where your nationality means you get the job rather than having proper qualifications.” So true, unfortunately the preferred nationality is not Caymanian.

    • Anon says:

      10.54pm I absolutely agree – look at the Civil Service whose reputation is only one notch above OfReg’s.

  22. Anonymous says:

    The Of reg inspector is only interested in regulating the small man trying to enter in the business all storage tanks should be double walled UL 142 listed why are the largest suppliers able to get away with using out of date infrastructure this terminal is clearly not safe for the workers or the people living close by OFREG seems to be only interested in protecting the businesses when you got the fuel inspector saying more fuel stations doesn’t lower prices at the pump I don’t know which world he’s living but he’s clearly a fool the problem is you have one entity buying or managing all the gas stations which OF REG should not allow

    • Anonymous says:

      Use punctuation!!!!!!! Jeez. How hard is that?
      Did you really mean for that to be one long sentence??

  23. Anonymous says:

    This seems to be or is becoming a recurring theme on this Island. Complete and absolute complacency in all areas of Governance whether it be the huge explosion risk in South Sound or the tragic comedy that is the DVDL.

    It’s about time the people of this Island stepped up and accepted that mediocrity is no longer acceptable. Caymanian or Expat, far too many lazy, useless steal a living no marks are holding this Island back from being GENUINELY world class.

    The private sector is full of the same parasites. Sucking money from their customers with barely anything above the minimum standard to show for the work.

    This is truly the land of the take, take takes it seems with nothing in return unless it’s good for the points system and the PR (so they can take take take again).

    The fox is in the hen house, and we let them in.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Fine Rubis heavily, something high enough that will make the cost of poor management and operations large enough to change their behaviour and become a responsible business instead of treating their customers with disdain.

    Then find out if OfReg was asleep at the helm. If so fine the directors in a similar way.

    • Thinkbeforepostingcrap. says:

      I wonder who you think will end up paying whatever fines are levied on these oil companies. Please let me know who when you are able to figure it out. Thanks, I’m anxiously waiting for the answer.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Is anyone surprised by this? Repairing a corroded tank bottom costs $$$$$.

  26. Anonymous says:

    For people thinking what would cayman be like without ofreg, it’s exactly as it currently is.

    They don’t give a fuc# and no NOTHING

  27. Anonymous says:

    Ofreg, off for regular entainment golfing, is that what it stands for ?

  28. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the regulators except the root cause.

    The root cause was greed plain and simple.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Time for a new fleet of OfReg SUV’s, the old ones are obviously not up to standard to allow them to perform effectively.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely disgraceful

  31. Anonymous says:

    I am sure this news does not give the folks in the neighbourhood a sense of being safe.

    • Anonymous says:

      You could smell the gas leaks occasionally years ago. I always thought it was fishy

    • Our Ground Zero Waiting to Happen says:

      I never did feel safe there even in good times at Blue Parrot, games on the Big Tank. I think now after getting to see how it’s run the place for the lot in between should be know as the Blast Zone or maybe No Mans Land?

  32. Anonymous says:

    Supervision by a Caymanian authority… Worthless, as typical.

    … role of OfReg, which is responsible for the inspection of fuel storage, and whether or not it was aware of the failure by Rubis to address the corroded tank and what, if anything, the inspector had instructed the oil company to do.

    Gee, I’m shocked at the incompetence… NOT! Fools elected these fools!

    • Anonymous says:

      OK, Must be the same Fools who elected Fools who nominated a Fool to be speaker…

      Only in Cayman. (And we want to be respected on the World stage? I think not).

    • Anonymous says:

      To be fair:

      Rubis just want’s to make a profit.
      The inspector’s just want an un-stressful day.
      The OfReg staff just want an easy day at their desk.

      Problems?????? No Mon! All’s well!

  33. Anonymous says:

    Take away their license.

  34. Anon says:

    Typical sloppiness. Irresponsibility.
    What is going on?

  35. Ticking Time Bomb says:

    Morons in charge and at Rubis and OfReg. Both Rubis and OfReg are aware that bulk storage tanks require integrity testing every 3 to 5 years as per American Petroleum Institute guidelines. Do OfReg make this a requirement? Trained, competent personnel and equipment is available on island but OfReg have their favourite contractor list and don’t like anyone else doing it it especially if they providers of an honest service and report. I am not surprised that under the current regime of “run till failure” we haven’t had more leaks and incidents that require evacuation of residents around Jackson Point Terminal. This is another black mark on OfReg’s already sullied record. Disband OfReg and it’s impotent overpaid staff and appoint independent, qualified inspectorates who deliver boots on the ground inspections and monthly status reports for all to scrutinise.

  36. Cayman Sanction says:

    Of Reg hahahaha please fuel inspector is total waste of space and so is his boss another bunch here that need to go!

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