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CAPECO disaster, Puerto Rico


Description

The petroleum refinery started in Puerto Rico in 1995, settled in Bayamon as CAPECO. Through time, ownership has changed following the purchase by Gulf Oil Corporation (1962), Chevron Corporation (1984), First Oil Corporation (1987) and last, Puma Energy Caribe (2011). It was used as a petroleum storage terminal and distribution facility for gasoline, fuel oil, jet and diesel fuel with an open space of 179 acres and 48 storage tanks. On the night of October 23, 2009 a large explosion occurred at the refinery which burned a total of 17 petroleum storage tanks.

It was a night shift when the employees were receiving the offloading of gasoline to store at the tanks. The received merchandise has to be distributed into 4 storage tanks that takes more than 24hours to fully complete. On October 22 approximately at 10pm, the operators were on the process to fully load the last tank and estimate to be done at 1am, but around 12 the gasoline of the tank was already overflowed and it was spilling out. Each tank has a tank operator that records the level every hour by observing the level gauge on the side of the tank. It seems that the tank operators weren’t following the procedures and the employees were filling the tanks manually and by eye. The explosion caused a massive fire that extended to other tanks that exploded too and made the situation worst. Three people were left injured. The blast and fire from multiple secondary explosions resulted in significant damage to the petroleum storage tanks and in neighborhoods and businesses offsite. The fires burned for almost 66 hours while emergency responders fought to control de fire.

CAPECO and the EPA collected and shipped offsite an estimated 171,000 gallons of oil and 22 million gallons of contact water. Overall, approximately 30 million gallons of petroleum were released via storm water channels, on-site and off-site surface water bodies, and neighboring wetlands to San Juan Bay. It was also found dead wildlife and both aquatic and avian species, including protected species covered in oil. In May 2010, CAPECO was required to pay more than $8.2 million for environmental liabilities.  The day after the explosion, a lawsuit was filed in the Federal District Court of San Juan against Caribbean Petroleum Corporation and MAPFRE Insurance Company. MAPFRE was later removed from the lawsuit. On December 11, 2009, a third joint lawsuit was presented against Caribbean Petroleum Corp. by 1,000 defendants seeking $500 million in damages.

On August 2010, Caribbean Petroleum Corporation filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11. The company cited debts of $500 million to $1 billion, against assets of $100 million to $500 million, according to the filing. The filing came after the company failed to comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency orders to clean the site of the explosion. Caribbean Petroleum claimed their financial situation prevented them from doing the work, and EPA took over the cleaning process.

Basic Data

NameCAPECO disaster, Puerto Rico
CountryPuerto Rico
ProvincePuerto Rico
SiteBayamón
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Chemical industries
Specific CommoditiesCrude oil
Chemical products

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsThere were 11 tanks that exploded and then it rapidly spreads to nearby tanks. A total of 17 out of 48 tanks were burned. The explosion was measured to a 2.8 magnitude earthquake Ritcher scale. Flames reached a height of 30m above the refinery. CSB estimated nearly 200,000 gallons of gasoline were escaped, equivalent to 107 acres.
Project Area (in hectares)72.44 hectares
Type of PopulationUrban
Start Date2009
End Date01/05/2010
Company Names or State EnterprisesCaribbean Petroleum Corporation (CAPECO) from Puerto Rico
Relevant government actorsFire Department Station.

Police Department

FBI

PR OSHA
International and Financial InstitutionsGulf Oil Corporation from United States of America - Owners of the refinary
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersU.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Act)

https://www.epa.gov/superfund

CSB(Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board)

http://www.csb.gov/

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)

https://www.osha.gov/

Emergency Management State Agency

https://www.fema.gov/emergency-management-agencies

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingIndustrial workers
International ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Fires, Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Soil erosion, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place

Outcome

Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseApplication of existing regulations
Withdrawal of company/investment
Development of AlternativesImplement a prevention program that includes process safety information, process hazard analysis, standard operating procedures, training, mechanical integrity, compliance audits, incident investigations, management of change (MOC), pre-startup reviews, employee participation, and hot work permits.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.COPECO declared bankruptcy and left the area without repairing the damages. EPA took over the cleaning process.

Sources and Materials

Legislations

Clean Water Act
https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-clean-water-act

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act
https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-comprehensive-environmental-response-compensation-and-liability-act

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-resource-conservation-and-recovery-act

Oil Protection Act
https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-oil-pollution-act

Clean Air ACt
https://www.epa.gov/clean-air-act-overview/clean-air-act-text

Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure
https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-oil-pollution-act

Links

FINAL CAPECO NEWS RELEASE
http://www.csb.gov/assets/1/7/FINAL_CAPECO_News_Release_SPN.pdf

CAPECO FINAL REPORT
http://www.csb.gov/assets/1/7/CAPECO_Final_Report__10.21.2015.pdf

INCENDIO MAS GRANDE EN LA HISTORIA DE PUERTO RICO
http://www.noticel.com/noticia/167822/bomberos-recuerdan-el-incendio-mas-grande-en-la-historia-de-puerto-rico-galeria.html

CASO CAPECO - Revelan lo que pasó en caso CAPECO, seis años después
http://periodismoinvestigativo.com/2015/06/revelan-lo-que-paso-en-caso-capeco-seis-anos-despues/

Media Links

CAPECO
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Bn4Krb-HoI

CAPECO 3
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7idf7XOG5b4&spfreload=10

EXPLOSION CAPECO
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41QMaJqxqIo&feature=youtu.be

CAPECO
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9jfublbyzk

Other Documents

FIRE
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/CAPECO_FIRE.jpg

FIREFIGHTERS
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/3.jpg

FIRE CAPECO AIR POLLUTION
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/2.jpg

CAPECO EXPLOSION Tanks burning down
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/4.jpg

Meta Information

ContributorVerónica Fontanals Cuebas/ UPRM/ [email protected]
Last update10/07/2017

Images

 

FIRE

 

FIREFIGHTERS

 

FIRE CAPECO

AIR POLLUTION

CAPECO EXPLOSION

Tanks burning down