Book Review

What Went Wrong? : Case Histories of Process Plant Disasters
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What Went Wrong? : Case Histories of Process Plant Disasters

By: Trevor A. Kletz

Hardcover - 450 pages
Published by: Gulf Pub Co
4th edition
Publication Date: May 1998
Dimensions (in inches): 1.23 x 9.26 x 6.35
ISBN: 0884159205

Case histories reveal the causes and aftermaths of numerous plant disasters--almost all of which could have been prevented--and provide insight into how to avoid similar catastrophes. This expanded edition features sections and chapters on heat exchangers, furnaces, inherently safer design, and runaway reactions. It analyzes accidents that have occurred since publication of the 1988 edition, including the Phillips 66 company Houston Chemical Complex explosion and the Piper Alpha disaster. It is concerned with the immediate technical causes of these disasters and the changes in design and procedures needed to prevent them from happening again.


We have made this book part of a required reading program for all engineers, as part of our company's process safety program. Anyone involved in chemical or petroleum operations, will benefit greatly from the wisdom that can be gained by learning from other's mistakes. As my old boss used to say, "You can accumulate about 50 years of knowledge in your work life-time. What you need is 100 years of wisdom." By reading this book you can accumulate 100 years of wisdom. The book is a collection of short summaries arranged by topic. This allows for easy short term reading periods appropriate for training classes or casual reading.

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