Natural Hazards Triggering Technological Disasters Case Studies

Published: 2021/11/17
Number of words: 2894


Engineering is an important discipline in life as it determines important decisions that determine the safety of individuals and the society at large. Engineers are responsible for designing, creating or building something based on the given guidelines. It is important to note that in Engineering there is minimal room for errors as the outcomes impacts the safety of individuals in society. [1]Engineering accidents are fatal and there is a need for engineers to learn from failures and establish strategic approaches that can help them achieve success. Industrial accidents emerge as a result of human errors, technical issues, material failures, extreme conditions and design flaws. Unlike other professions, mistakes made in engineering might have a far much reaching consequence on both residents and other stakeholders. Natechs are accidents that occur due to a mechanical problem in manufacturing plants and other places. The paper examines two case studies of Natech accidents that have happened before as an approach to understanding basic facts on the topic of discussion. examining accident that have happened before makes engineers updated with kill on how to overcome challenges that might attract disaster for residents. [2]There are several situations involving explosions from oil and gas industries within the United States. In essence, the paper examines case studies of natech accidents and determines stakeholder analysis in each situation, the inherent risk and conducts a causal chain analysis.

Case Study 1: Delphi Oil, Carnes, Mississippi

Case Description and Boundary Setting

On October 31st 2009, two teens from Carnes, Mississippi were fatally injured as a result of an explosion of a distillate gas tank in a nearby plant. The two teenagers, 16 and 18, drove off at 4 am a distance of approximately 150 yards from their home. There were several residences near the gas plant and the teens were killed in the explosion. [2]The explosion propelled the upper tank approximately 225 feet above the ground with a radius of approximately 60 feet. The tank lost its contents and led to eruption of a fire that was almost 200 feet high which persisted for over four hours. The fire was large enough to limit responders from accessing the Delphi Oil’s emergency contact information. The two teenagers were found dead approximately 120 feet from the site of explosion. It is important to note that a cigarette lighter was found on the scene of the explosion but there was no evidence to link it to the cause of the fire.

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It is vital to examine the accident has occurred in Delphi and establish boundaries that encompass the scenario. The Delphi Oil company site is located approximately 500 feet from nearby residential houses. The site is accessible using a number of foot trails with unsecured dirt access road. One important aspect that one can learn from the accident is that the site lacked warning signs about the danger of the content contained in the tanks. [2]The tanks lacked proper security measures to warn residents of the impending danger of explosion. It is the duty of engineers to examine such problems and purpose to fix them as they can to be fatal. The oil company should have ensured that security measures are followed to prevent any possible failure. The explosion at Delphi is an example of an engineering failure, that claimed the lives of two teenagers.

Stakeholders Analysis

It is important to conduct a stakeholder analysis as a strategy to understand the need and relationship of each with the accident. The first stakeholders include residents of the area where the site is located. The teens who died are stakeholders who engineers did not consider when establishing the plant within the locality. Through stakeholder analysis, an engineering project can know who was affected most by the accident and purpose to avert a similar case in the future. Equally, one can form strategic alliances that can help control accidents of the same nature from happening again. As such, indigenous people in Delphi were impacted significantly due to smoke from the fire and death of two teens. One of the risks associated with stakeholder analysis is that the process is only as good as the information collected is used. Gathering information that is less useful might be detrimental towards achieving the set objectives.

Other stakeholders include residents within Delphi who have few options when they are faced with such changes. Employees working for the oil company also form an important part of stakeholders in the case. There is a possibility that engineers in charge were brought to book for having failed to put the right safety measures that are required to combat fire and explosion. [2]Another group of individuals affected include those who gave capital to invest in the oil plant. Such individuals incurred losses as a result of litigation and replacement of the necessary materials that were destroyed by the explosion. The fact that emission from the explosion in the environment increases the greenhouse effect makes all stakeholders affected within Delphi. The greenhouse effect is a major cause o climate change, and the explosion was a negative occurrence to the environment and individuals within the surrounding. The government and law enforcement agencies are stakeholders as they had to explain why the company was operating under low safety conditions.

Inherent Risk Determination

It is important to conduct an inherent risk assessment to determine the possibility of the accident to have occurred if safer measures were not in place. The Delphi Oil Company had failed in ensuring safer measures for its operations including having indicative risk signs. Engineers should ensure that areas of operation have warning signs to protect residents and surrounding individuals from any risk associated with their operations. However, Delphi Oil Company failed in its mandate to ensure that signs and other important aspects to minimize accidents are available. There is also a need for engineering firms to fence their sites as a strategy to promote safety measures for all stakeholders. Lack of strategic measures on the same leads to exposure of members of society to inherent risks that claim the lives of individuals. Engineers for Delphi Oil Company should have made an effort to fence the site to avoid further issues.

Equally, the fact that the accident occurred without the company taking any necessary precautions to avert the situation. Distillate gas tanker are hazardous and at a high risk and there is a need for plants to take precautionary measures to protect the community and other stakeholders. The tanks used by Delhi Oil Company lacked the necessary preventative design o avoid an internal vapor explosion. In essence, the plant site lacked the necessary and required safety measures, which exposed the locality to aspects of explosion, claiming the lives of two teens. Inherent risks during engineering process such as manufacturing should be handled by conducting thorough research and putting in place strategic approaches. The Delphi explosion should act as a learning point for engineers who ignore basic safety requirements while setting up projects. The fact that eh company had failed to put in place the required safety measures increased the risk for an accident.

Causal Chain Analysis

The root cause of the accident is setting up of a plant and failing to adhere to engineering guidelines for safety. Every engineering plant or manufacturing firm should put safety measures ahead of any other interest. Failure to put safety measures in place includes the lack of the required perimeter, equipment fencing to deter public access and designing the tanks in a manner that prevents internal vapor explosion. The lack of warning signs that should notify people of the hazardous nature of the site would have proved important. In essence, the accident occurred as a result of ignorance. The result of ignorance by engineers at the site is a loss of two lives and destruction of property as caused by the explosion. The failure event in the case is the explosion of the tank that caused fire and claimed two lives. Equally, people within the locality had a hand to play in the explosion as none had reported the lack of safety measures at the site. Safety should be a collective responsibility and engineers should sensitize stakeholders before commencing a project that has a high risk such as an oil and gas plant. The failure of engineers in the incident began when they do not inform the public through signs or any other approach about the hazardous nature of the site.

Case study 2: Three MG Family, Weleetka, Oklahoma

The second case of an accident as a result of engineering practices includes the explosion at Weleetka, Oklahoma. On April 14th, 2010, 210-l barrel tank at an oil and gas plant in Weleetka exploded causing an injury to a 21 year old male and second-degree burns to a 26 year old male. It is vital to examine the case and establish possible reasons that led to the explosion that led to a fire. [1]At the time of the explosion, there were a group of young adult and teenagers who were on their way to an isolated location along the North Canadian River in Oklahoma. The group had taken a stop at the oil and gas site to socialize at around 8:30 pm. Acco0rding to witnesses in the area, the victim had gone upstairs to a place where he could access the storage tanks that belonged to the Three MG family. The victim was smoking a cigar and behind them was a different person who had his lighter on to see well. Vapors from the tank ignited causing an explosion that resulted in injuries.

It is important to define boundaries that encompass the circumstance that led to injuries of two individuals. Fire department representatives in the region arrived at 9 and rushed the victim with burn to hospital. However, the victim succumbed to the second-degree burns the following day. It is important to note that the area should have been fenced with equipment to avoid or deter the public from accessing the site. It is important to note that the group had the chance to avoid the explosion if the place was out of bounds for the public.

Stakeholder Analysis

A stakeholder analysis is essential to establish affected parties and the possible extent of damage that was realized from the same. The incident site was leased to three companies including the Three MG family Inc., Scissor Tail Energy and Enterprise Energy. The three were interconnected and an accident on one of the three could have led to a possible explosion. Indigenous stakeholders in the incident include observers and the group that was socializing near the site of the plant. The group consisted of adults and teenagers and the explosion injured two of the group members. The three companies involved form a major part of the stakeholders in the accident and there is a need to understand losses that they incurred. Engineering accidents are fatal and might require a huge sum of money to handle outcomes. It is the duty of engineers in such projects to administer appropriate safety measures that can help avoid such scenarios in future.

The society in Weleetka form part of the stakeholders in the accident. Employees who work for three firms must account for the explosion experienced. Security agencies and the fire department in the locality all form a significant part of stakeholders in the accident. The fact that the surrounding community witnessed an explosion that resulted in the loss of property and life is indicative of a failure by engineers. [1]It is vital to note that once a failure occurs, there is a likelihood that the firms lose more and so do stakeholders. Other stakeholders involved in the incident include individuals in the hospital who offered to help the victims of the accident. Such people in society perform a vital role in ensuring that people lead a healthy and safe life. The accident erupted due to carelessness from both the victims and the firms as they failed to put n place the required safety measures.

Inherent Risk

T is critical to examine the inherent risk in the accident and ascertain whether it would have been avoided. The first aspect that made the risk inherent I the failure of the companies to put in place the required safety guidelines. Safety measures such as fencing with equipment to deter public access would have proved helpful. Engineers should put safety top on the priority risk as engineering projects can turn fatal if all precautions are taken in advance. There was a need for the firms involved to conduct enough research on the need for safety measures at the site to avoid accidents. Unfortunately, the engineers ignored basics, which resulted in an explosion. The gate at the site is unlocked, which means that the public can access the site without any permission. [3]Failure to have a gate that can be locked to fend off the public is an engineering failure that can result to fatalities. Another inherent risk in the accident is the lack of a perimeter fence at the site, which would have helped notify the public of the operations in place.

Warning signs that indicate the flammability of the content of the tanks were absent, which could have misled the public significantly. The design of the tank used in eh site did not offer any protection against the internal explosions. In essence, the inherent risk was bigger and the firms involved should have done more to improve safety measures. Engineers at the firm failed terribly for having using a tank that could not prevent internal vapor explosions. It is vital to note that an engineering failure can cause death and lead to huge economic losses. Inherent risks in the accident include the failure of involved parties to put in place the required measures to combat any chance of an explosion. For instance, the lack of warning signs is a serious risk that can lead to fatalities as evidenced from the case study.

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Causal Chain Analysis

It is necessary to explore the case and establish the root cause of the incident that led to an accident. The root cause is the failure for relevant authorities or firms to put in place the right preventative safety measures. [1]The group of six individuals involved in the scenario would have respected the in place safety measures and warning signs against the flammability of the content of the tanks. Ere was only one sign noted at the site, which indicated that the place had gas and oil but no further details were provided. The fire started as individuals of the group started walking around the gas station checking on the tanks without being aware of flammability. One individuals was smoking while the other lit a lighter as a source of light. The gas ignited causing an explosion that caused destruction of property and injured some. Engineering failures on the project resulted in fatalities that could have been controlled with stringent safety measures.


To sum it up, engineering is one discipline that requires one to be accurate in each operation to guarantee minimal disaster. It is important to examine the issue of accidents in the engineering context and purpose to use the information gathered to reduce disaster or risk. Engineering failures result from human errors, technical errors, design flaws and, other irresponsible practices. Failures in engineering can be costly and there is a need for practitioners in the field to ensure high level standards for improved safety. When engineers fail in their duty, there is a likelihood that stakeholders will be the ones to suffer directly. The case studies discussed form an important part of the research and engineers should learn from failures and not through experience. The cases illustrate failure from the side of engineers, which resulted in loss of life and destruction of property within respective localities.


[1]Abniki, H., Bastan, M., Kasiralvalad, E. and Ahmadvand, A., 2017. Impacts of Safety Performance and Culture on Work-Related Accidents: A System Dynamics Model. In The 7th International conference of Industrial Engineering and Operations Management (IEOM 2017).

[2]Arifuddin, R., Suraji, A. and Latief, Y., 2019. Study of the causal factors of construction projects vulnerability to accidents. International Journal of Innovative Technology and Exploring Engineering8(6), pp.711-716.

[3]Cruz, A.M. and Suarez-Paba, M.C., 2019. Advances in Natech research: An overview. Progress in Disaster Science1, p.100013.

[4]Sibilski, K., 2020. Some thoughts on mathematical models for aircraft accidents simulation. In Aviation Safety, Human Factors-System Engineering-Flight Operations-Economics-Strategies-Management (pp. 675-694). CRC Press.

[5]Sorenson, D. and Marais, K., 2016, April. Patterns of causation in accidents and other systems engineering failures. In 2016 Annual IEEE Systems Conference (SysCon) (pp. 1-8). IEEE.

[6]Zheng, K., 2020, September. Analysis and Forecast of Production Safety Accidents of Housing Municipal Engineering in China. In Journal of Physics: Conference Series (Vol. 1634, No. 1, p. 012090). IOP Publishing.

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