- Release of toxic/flammable materials
Tamaulipas Refinery, Reynosa, Mexico, 18 September 2012
DESCRIPTION OF FACILITY
The Tamaulipas Refinery is located in the City of Reynosa in Tamaulipas, Mexico and is owned by Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), the Mexican state-run petroleum company. It is located on the border of McAllen, Texas, USA and serves as a key entry point of natural gas to Mexico from the United States of America. Prior to the incident, Pemex suffered a series of smaller explosions and fires at several of its refineries and petrochemical plants. Four workers were injured in a fire at the Madero refinery in Tamaulipas earlier in the same month.
On 18th September 2012 at around 11:00am, an explosion occurred at the Pemex Gas Processing Complex and resulted in the deaths of 26 people, consisting of 4 Pemex employees and 22 external contractors. A further 46 people were injured. Over 700 workers were at the plant at the time of the incident and concerns regarding a potential second larger explosion were quickly raised, prompting the evacuating of a 5 mile zone around the plant.
The explosion caused severe damage to the plant including damage to measuring equipment, pipelines and control valves, resulting in the disruption of gas distribution in and around the area, but did not significantly affect Mexico’s domestic market as a whole.
No official report has been released to date and no explanation has been given regarding the cause of the initial gas release which led to the explosion and subsequent fires. It was however reported that maintenance work was being carried out on the plant just moments before the explosion.
Despite frequent illegal taps to oil pipelines in Mexico, no evidence was found to indicate that the explosion was anything but accidental, with taps to gas pipelines being comparatively rare.