The world's most destructive industrial accident of the current decade, in terms of human lives lost (over 60) and damage to property (over $15 million), occurred at the petroleum refinery of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) at Vishakhapatnam, India, on September 14, 1997. In this paper we have used two computer automated tools recently developed by us, MAXCRED , and DOMIFFECT , to determine their ability to forecast the details of the incident. When the situation at Vishakhapatnam, prior to the accident, was studied with MAXCRED for potential accidents and their likely consequences, the tool was able to generate a scenario which forecast the incident quite closey. We then used MAXCRED and DOMIFFECT to tell us what else might have occurred.
The prognosis is quite scary. The computer tools reveal a few lucky breaks: had the situation and the events conspired a little more treacherously, the HPCL disaster would have been much larger in magnitude. Indeed the incident could have resulted in a death toll of the magnitude of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy with additional massive damage to propert.
This paper show-cases the usefulness of MAXCRED and DOMIFFECT and also brings forth lessons which all industries would benefit from learning.