Lightning Electrotechnologies Inc. has analyzed a video which seems to show the lightning strike that caused a June 3, 2023, tank fire at Calcasieu Refining Co.’s tank farm in Lake Charles, La. The tank contained naphtha.
The company’s analysis moves past the idea that since it was a steel tank of adequate thickness to conduct the lightning current, it should have been inherently protected from lightning, instead considering the effects of lightning-related electromagnetic (EM) fields and waves. The video included here explains how such a strike would have produced large EM fields or waves and how various points on the tank could have been susceptible to hazardous sparking of sufficient energy to ignite flammable vapors.
Lightning Electrotechnologies has called on the National Fire Protection Association to consider addressing sparking due to lightning-related inducing potentials in its standards work.