We appear to be in a global recession – companies all over are struggling to deal with impact of economic slowdown. In an attempt to maintain profits, companies are drastically reducing their spending and also trimming down their workforce. It is anticipated that one-fourth of the employers in the US will undergo workforce reduction in 2009. As a result of pessimism and uncertainty about future, there is an increased level of anxiety amongst the employees. There are a few issues that a chemical manufacturing firm must address to ensure safe operation during the downturn:[Read more…]
Operational Risk, Process SafetyA practitioner's view on operational risks - impact of operation on environment, safety, and finance.
The 20th century was a time of great technological change that forever transformed how we live and work – changes that necessitated the birth and development of the field of Process Safety Management. The early years saw the evolution of mechanization into assembly lines and true industrialization. Lack of access to South American nitrate during World War I, led to the creation of the synthetic chemical industry. World War II fostered increased industrial growth and sophistication. By the 1960s, we were building computers and beginning our race to the moon. Industries grew becoming increasingly sophisticated and reliant on automated systems. The 1970s brought the creation of the US EPA and OSHA. The 1980s witnessed one of the greatest tragedies in the last century – an estimated 4,000 people died in the 1984 Bhopal accident. Since then, the process safety community has evolved in its approaches and methodologies to better manage risks.[Read more…]
I recently came across a report from European Gas Pipeline Incident Data Group (EGIG) titled “Safety Performance Determines The Acceptability of Cross Country Gas Transmission Systems”. The paper presents incident data contributed by six European gas transmission operators over a 30-year period of 1970-2001.[Read more…]
Biofuel production and manufacturing facilities in the United States are increasing rapidly. On August 8, 2005, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (H.R. 6) into law. The comprehensive energy legislation includes a nationwide renewable fuels standard (RFS) that will double the use of ethanol and biodiesel by 2012.[Read more…]
LNG import terminals in the U.S. follow NFPA-59A and 49CFR193 standards for facility siting. As a part of the siting studies, LNG regasification facilities report thermal radiation exclusion zones and flammable vapor exclusion zones:
- Flammable vapor hazard zones are based on a design spill from a single accidental source, usually a guillotine rupture.
- Thermal radiation hazards are based on tank fire.
An explosion occurred at East Ohio Company’s peak-shaving plant in Cleveland, Ohio on October 20, 1944. 128 people were killed and 225 injured as a result of the incident.[Read more…]
Process and portable building siting has attracted further interest following the BP Texas city incident. Because of the proximity of office buildings to chemical processes, it is likely that people inside of a building be subjected to higher risks from process hazards than outdoor personnel.[Read more…]
Reactivity hazards involve conversion of stored chemical energy of the components into mechanical or heat energy, andit is the uncontrolled release of this stored energy that causes the damage in a reactive chemical incident. The reactivity of a substance is normally assessed by performing calorimetric measurements.[Read more…]
Chemical industry has evolved dramatically since the first sulfuric acid manufacturing plant was established in the 18thcentury. Modern day chemical plant is an engineering marvel producing valuable chemicals necessary for the societal progress. Although safe for the most part, chemical industries have witnessed a few significant accidents in the last two decades. The Bhopal disaster marked the turning point in the history of chemical plant’s process safety. The Bhopal disaster resulted in an increased concern and anxiety among everyone safe operation of a plant. There are several landmark events that followed the 1984 Bhopal disaster:[Read more…]
The presence of certain functional groups is considered an indicator of reactivity. This is the simplest possible reactivity screening method and serves as a guideline for further analysis. For example, chemicals containing the following functional groups can be considered potentially reactive:[Read more…]
While performing consequence modeling we are often required to evaluate damage to population and property from a fire.
Thermal radiation impact to humans from a fire should be based on the dosage – i.e. the intensity of exposure and the duration of exposure. Furthermore, such an impact from thermal radiation on population should consider the protection offered by clothing/buildings and the ability of a person to find a shelter from radiation.[Read more…]
It is estimated that there are more than 500,000 Above ground storage tanks (ASTs) in the U.S. These tanks can leak gradually (more likely) or may collapse suddenly (low probability). The loss of tank content can lead to water contamination or may lead to a fire in case of a hydrocarbon.[Read more…]
Citizens often oppose chemical process facilities near their community because of potential for high consequence events. This risk aversion of society is commonly referred to as NIMBY (Not-in-my-backyard). The risk aversion is based not by taking into account annual fatalities but based on potential worst-case catastrophe. Thus the main factor influencing risk perception is catastrophic consequence potential.[Read more…]