Anhydrous hydrofluoric acid (AHF) release in South Korea, 5 dead, 18 injured

October 29, 2012

Five workers were killed and 18 others injured in an AHF release which took place 27th September, 2012, at Hube Global, based 200 kilometers southeast of Seoul, South Korea.  CCTV footage of the event has been made available.

3000 people downwind of the incident also received emergency care for nausea and other symptoms, and the incident has reportedly affected crops and livestock, and caused an estimated $15.9 million lost production to nearby businesses.  The area affected has been classed a special disaster zone, eligible to receive central government funding for clean-up operations.

During the incident, two workers on top of a tank lorry for transfer, two workers at ground level for pump repair and one officer in a nearby office building died when AHF released from a valve from the top of the lorry.  Whilst the cause of the release is being subject to an enquiry, early reports suggest a human factors cause – the workers may have mistakenly fully opened the transfer valve.  Some issues apparent from the CCTV footage and worth considering include:

  • Both workers working on top of the lorry had no chemical protective clothing or self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
  • There didn’t seem to be any fall-protection in place.

There may have also been issues concerning lack of emergency response equipment/systems to mitigate the leak, and emergency responders not being aware of the treatment for AHF.

An important question to ask is was a safety critical task analysis or a quantitative human reliability analysis conducted for this task?  These types of analyses may have identified these risks and helped put in place safeguards (for example, changing the valve design, the use of adequate PPE).

EI partners with Tripod Foundation to further develop risk management tools

October 22, 2012

The Energy Institute (EI) has signed a partnership agreement with the Stichting Tripod Foundation to help develop deep learning from incidents using Tripod based tools. The agreement aims to build on the EI’s current risk management programme and strengthen the range of Tripod methodology tools and activities.

Identifying the root causes of incidents is fundamental in helping to stop their recurrence. Tripod BETA is internationally recognised as a robust incident analysis tool and Tripod DELTA enables organisations to proactively identify weaknesses in management systems, before incidents may happen. At its core, the Tripod methodology’s approach is aimed at identifying underlying organisational weaknesses and promoting understanding and better management of these issues to prevent future incidents.

As part of this partnership arrangement, the EI will be working to support and extend the Tripod community of users, including independent accreditation of its practitioners and trainers.

Martin Maeso CEnv MEI, Knowledge Director, Energy Institute, says, ‘The EI delivers good practice guidance to the global energy sector on behavioural and process safety, environment, health, distribution, measurement and testing methodology. By working in partnership with the Tripod Foundation the EI has an excellent opportunity to enhance and build its risk management activities. Furthermore, as a Royal Charter institute, the EI has extensive experience in managing a range of accreditation processes and so is well placed to support the further development of the Tripod network. This partnership strengthens the EI’s commitment to safety whilst providing vital support and potential for growth in the valuable work undertaken by the Tripod Foundation.’

Tony Gower-Jones, Secretary, Stichting Tripod Foundation Board, says, ‘Tripod was developed over 20 years ago, alongside the bow-tie model and in direct response to the Piper Alpha disaster. It is now used by a wide range of industries that extend well beyond the energy sector. Working with the EI, the Foundation now aims to develop the suite of Tripod tools and activities and we would like to encourage the current user community to participate in this development programme with us.’

To find out how you can engage with this work, please email