Hazardous Materials Accident Report - Overflow of Gasoline and Fire at a Service Station-Convenience Store

Biloxi, Mississippi
August 9, 1998

NTSB Number: HZM-98-02
NTIS Number: PB99-917007
Adopted September 21, 1999
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Executive Summary

On August 9, 1998, about 12:53 a.m., a Premium Tank Lines, Inc., truckdriver was transferring gasoline from a cargo tank to underground storage tanks at a Fast Lane gasoline station-convenience store in Biloxi, Mississippi, when an underground storage tank containing gasoline overflowed. An estimated 550 gallons of gasoline flowed from the storage tank, across the station lot into the adjacent highway, through an intersection, and into a storm drain. The gasoline ignited, and fire engulfed three vehicles near the intersection, which ultimately resulted in the deaths of five occupants and the serious injury of one. Damages were estimated at $55,000.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of Premium Tank Line, Inc.'s officials to follow established company procedures in hiring and training new drivers, the company's lack of adequate procedures for dispatching drivers and delivering cargo to customer facilities, and the failure of R.R. Morrison and Son, Inc., to have adequate safety procedures for accepting product offered for delivery at its Fast Lane stations. Contributing to the accident was the truckdriver's various and numerous operating errors during the gasoline transfer process that led to the underground storage tank overfill.

The following safety issues are discussed in this report:

  • Premium Tank Line, Inc.'s management oversight;
  • R.R. Morrison and Son, Inc.'s procedures for accepting petroleum product deliveries to underground storage tanks; and
  • Federal requirements and oversight.

As a result of its investigation of this accident, the Safety Board makes recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration, the Research and Special Programs Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, Premium Tank Lines, Inc., R.R. Morrison and Son, Inc., the American Petroleum Institute, the National Tank Truck Carriers Association, the National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, the Service Station Dealers of America, and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America.

Recommendations

As a result of its investigation, the Safety Board makes the following safety recommendations:

To the Research and Special Programs Administration:

Promulgate regulations requiring motor carriers that transport hazardous materials in cargo tanks to develop and maintain specific written cargo loading and unloading procedures for their drivers. (H-99-57)

Require that a hazardous materials incident meeting the immediate notification requirements in 49 Code of Federal Regulations 171.15 be reported within a specified time period to Federal authorities. (H-99-58)

To the Federal Highway Administration:

Once the Federal regulations requiring motor carriers that transport hazardous materials in cargo tanks to provide written cargo loading and unloading procedures are promulgated, ensure that the motor carriers are in compliance with the regulations. (H-99-59)

To the Environmental Protection Agency:

Take action necessary to improve compliance with and enforcement of 40 Code of Federal Regulations 280.30, which requires that owners and operators of underground storage tanks prevent their overfilling. (H-99-60)

To Premium Tank Lines, Inc.:

Revise your driver and driver-trainer manuals to include specific written instructions on loading and unloading cargo and on the use of tools, such as storage tank capacity charts, necessary to deliver gasoline safely. (H-99-61)

Establish procedures to ensure that company officials adhere to written policies relating to hiring, training, and discipline of company truckdrivers. (H-99-62)

To R.R. Morrison and Son, Inc.:

Establish procedures and provide training to ensure that your employees verify that underground storage tanks have sufficient capacity for the gasoline or other petroleum products offered for delivery and monitor such transfers so that overfills do not occur. (H-99-63)

To the National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, the Petroleum Marketers of America, the Service Station Dealers of America, and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America:

Inform your members of the facts and circumstances of the August 9, 1998, accident in Biloxi, Mississippi, and urge them to review their procedures and, if necessary, to revise them to require that station employees verify that underground storage tanks have sufficient capacity for gasoline or other petroleum products offered for delivery and to monitor such transfers so that overfills do not occur. (H-99-64 through -68)

To the National Tank Truck Carriers Association:

Inform your members of the facts and circumstances of the August 9, 1998, accident in Biloxi, Mississippi, and urge them to review the adequacy of their procedures for hiring and training truckdrivers and their written procedures for loading and unloading hazardous materials. (H-99-69)

To the American Petroleum Institute:

Inform your members having cargo tank motor carrier operations of the facts and circumstances of the August 9, 1998, accident in Biloxi, Mississippi, and urge them to review the adequacy of their procedures for hiring and training truckdrivers and their written procedures for loading and unloading hazardous materials. (H-99-70)