Re: [SystemSafety] Oil train fireball

From: Peter Wilkinson < >
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2015 21:30:48 +0000

See the attached for a summary of the key issues.

The large scale Spadeadam JIP experiments from the 1990s were important in helping to understand the differences from the observed effects of explosions on offshore platforms to what the models predicted. regards

Peter Wilkinson
General Manager - Risk | Noetic Group

Ph: +61 2 9264 2754 | Mob: +61 434 184 025 | Fax: +61 2 9264 2754 | Skype: wilkinson_noetic peter.wilkinson_at_xxxxxx Level 3, 70 Druitt Street, Alphen House, SYDNEY NSW 2000, Australia

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From: systemsafety-bounces_at_xxxxxx Sent: Friday, 20 February 2015 4:55 AM
To: Peter Bernard Ladkin; systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Subject: Re: [SystemSafety] Oil train fireball

One thing that that this West Virginia, Lac-Mégantic, Lynchburg VA, Casselton ND, and other recent train BLEVEs have in common is that they were carrying Bakken crude oil from North Dakota. This oil has more volatile components than other types of crude oil<>. I was recently at a meeting for the permitting process of a pipeline that would carry Bakken crude cross some of my property. This meeting had a surprising number of Luddites who were against the pipeline for safety reasons, completely ignoring the fact that this pipeline would by about 100x safer than the current train transportation.

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Wednesday, February 18, 2015 2:15 AM To: systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Subject: Re: [SystemSafety] Oil train fireball

Thanks, Martyn and Kevin!

I was somewhat uncreative with my search. "Fireball" and "model" gave me large amounts of astrophysics, which has a Fireball Model which is apparently hot. NASA has a one-page briefing at It's about the daily gamma-ray bursts which people have suggested come from collapsars.

Other stuff must have been buried further down than my patience. The key-keyword from Kevin turned out to be "vapor".

I thought I'd share what appear to be the most useful references. It's rare that I think "gosh, I really should find out the basics about that" and be so quickly fulfilled. Remembering what is was like getting reliable information even twenty years ago, this all seems a bit like magic.

All of these references are helpful with the qualitative characterisation, and it seems as if some of the basic math is also straightforward.

There was a huge fireball/explosion/BLEVE (great word that!) in the Urals in 1989. Apparently a leak in a pipeline next to rail tracks let a lot of vaopr out. Two trains passing each other apparently ignited it, and the effects covered kilometers.

One of the scientific investigators appeared to have moved to Singapore and has a paper giving a simplified model of BLEVE/fireball phenomena :Novozhilov 2001 I have no idea of course whether the model is any good, but the author's credentials are first-rate.

As as those of the American Institute of Chemical Engineering :-). Its Guidelines for Evaluating the Characteristics of Vapor Cloud Explosions, Flash Fires, and BLEVEs were published on-line in 2010 through John WIley & Sons and is available at

Another AIChEng publication with Wiley from 1996 contains an Appendix on Explosion and Fire Phenomena and Effects and is also on-line

Finally, there are some lecture notes from the Uni Toledo in Ohio on Fires and Explosions

I'll mug up on it a little before I approach Andrew Curran about Buncefield.

PBL Prof. Peter Bernard Ladkin, Faculty of Technology, University of Bielefeld, 33594 Bielefeld, Germany Je suis Charlie

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systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Received on Thu Feb 19 2015 - 22:31:04 CET

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