January 30, 2011

Ammonia replaced as refrigerant after incidents of leaks

An article mentions the following:
"The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (PCB) has announced that ice or cold storage plants should switch from ammonia to HCFC 22 following a series of leakages. The ruling means that municipal corporations and municipalities should not give any further licence to any ice plant or cold storage in urban areas unless they submit written undertakings stating that they will use HCFC 22 methane as refrigerant gas instead of Ammonia.It’s claimed that ammonia gas leak from cold storages in the city and adjoining towns and other districts have previously affected thousands of people".
I think this move will spread to the whole of India. The way ammonia gas cylinders are handled in the small and medium scale industries leave a lot to be desired. It is an inherently safer option to replace ammonia used in refrigeration systems. On the same subject, I still observe a number of non chemical plants using chlorine for their water treatment systems. There are safer alternatives to chlorine and it is time that the industry takes a look at it.
Read the article in this link

January 28, 2011

Chlorine leak in plant affects people and Police officer dies in mock drill

A leak of chlorine has been reported in Chemfab Alkalis plant in Pondicherry. Apparently the leak occurred when workers were filling chlorine cylinders. If you are also in the business of filling cylinders with toxic chemicals, how often do you check the effectiveness of your quick acting protections in the event of a leak? Do not wait till a leak occurs to find out whether your emergency shutdown systems are effective or not. This brings me to the next subject - a news report - a police officer has died during a mock drill. Apparently he got crushed by a moving fire tender vehicle. It is a tragic loss of life that could have been avoided One of the points that emergency responders must practice is NOT to rush during an emergency. Many mock drills I have seen are intent on controlling the situation as QUICKLY as possible. It is not the speed of response but SYSTEMATIC response that will help. The article also mentions that responders thought that the incident was also part of the drill. This is an unfortunate incident and I hope lessons learnt are shared with everyone.
Read the chlorine leak incident in these links
Leak 1
Leak 2
Read about the fatal accident during mock drill in these links
Mock drill fatality 1
Mock drill fatality 2
Thanks to Abhay Gujar for sending information about the incidents

January 26, 2011

Virtual plants - boon or bane?

A good discussion that highlights the following comments from one of the participants:
"Greg: Can't they just address the operator shortage issue with more and better automation?
Mart: Modern automation technology provides excellent return on investment, and can be used to operate process plants with fewer qualified operators. In general, highly automated plants have less operations-related errors. Modern control systems are very advanced, and can handle many tasks quicker, more safely and at a lower cost than a human operator. Advances in automation system and process technology allow process plants to operate longer without downtime. However, in a highly automated plant, the role of the operator is different and more difficult. Operators in these plants have to monitor a sophisticated system and make decisions about the health of the process and the performance of the system based upon trends and meta-information (information about information). In many cases instead of actively doing something, they have to review the information presented and make a decision about whether to do something or nothing at all. Also, because the system and process are more reliable, operators may seldom or never see upset conditions, and can quickly lose critical skills necessary to deal with those situations. This often results in compromised operating conditions. Studies show that the greatest cause of operational loss in the process industries is due to operator error. The need for a virtual plant is even greater in a highly automated process plant.
Stan: So, is the virtual plant only an operator training tool?
Mart: Not necessarily. The virtual plant is also an effective tool to reduce the risks in automation projects. While modern, field-based automation systems have great reliability and performance, the risk introduced by human engineering still remains. The risks may include hidden errors and issues in the automation system application software undetected until they cause process or operational issues.
Advanced control strategies that are not fully vetted can have affect plant operations adversely. In many plants, the operating procedures are in error or incomplete, so they are not used or trusted".

Ultimately, even if we automate the plants to the fullest extent, it is not possible to control emergencies and plant upsets. These need a trained experienced operator to handle the situation. As we automate the plants more and more there is a risk that operators loose their trouble shooting abilities. Read the full discussion in this link.

January 24, 2011

Lab accident - the dangers of chemicals

A chemical accident in a lab in India that went wrong has again pointed out the dangers of accidents in labs. Two girls were injured when an uncontrolled reaction took place. Treat your lab and R and D facilities with the same respect as your plant! Read the artcile in this link.

CO the deadly killer

Seven people have been reported hospitalised in a toffee manufacturing factory in UP after inhalation of carbon monoxide. CO is a deadly killer and in confined spaced and in places where improper combustion of fuels take place, one has to be very careful. Read the article in this link.

January 22, 2011

PSM and the Texas A & M Bonfire - good analysis

H Badat has made a comparision of the Teaxs A & M bonfire incident and the elements of PSM. It is a good effort and it can be viewed in this link.

January 21, 2011

CSB Report on Bayer CropScience Explosion finds multiple deficiencies led to Runaway Chemical Reaction

The CSB has released the report on the 2008 Bayer Crop Science explosion. The news release indicates the following:
"In a report scheduled for Board consideration at a public meeting this evening in Institute, the CSB found multiple deficiencies during a lengthy startup process that resulted in a runaway chemical reaction inside a residue treater pressure vessel. The vessel ultimately over pressurized and exploded. The vessel careened into the methomyl pesticide manufacturing unit leaving a huge fireball in its wake.
The report found that had the trajectory of the exploding vessel taken it in a different direction, pieces of it could have impinged upon and possibly caused a release from piping at the top of a tank of highly toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC).
The accident occurred during the startup of the methomyl unit, following a lengthy period of maintenance. The CSB found the startup was begun prematurely, a result of pressures to resume production of the pesticides methomyl and Larvin, and took place before valve lineups, equipment checkouts, a pre-startup safety review, and computer calibration were complete. CSB investigators also found the company failed to perform a thorough Process Hazard Analysis, or PHA, as required by regulation.

This resulted in numerous critical omissions, including an overly complex Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that was not reviewed and approved, incomplete operator training on a new computer control system, and inadequate control of process safeguards. A principal cause of the accident, the report states, was the intentional overriding of an interlock system that was designed to prevent adding methomyl process residue into the residue treater vessel before filling the vessel with clean solvent and heating it to the minimum safe operating temperature.
Furthermore, the investigation found that critical operating equipment and instruments were not installed before the restart, and were discovered to be missing after the startup began. Bayer’s Methomyl-Larvin unit MIC gas monitoring system was not in service as the startup ensued, yet Bayer emergency personnel presumed it was functioning and claimed no MIC was released during the incident.
CSB Investigations Manager John Vorderbrueggen noted that a major contributing factor to the accident was a series of equipment malfunctions that continually distracted operators. “Human factors played a big part in this accident, and the absence of enforced, workable standard operating procedures and adequate safety systems meant that mistakes could prove fatal. For example, operators were troubleshooting several equipment problems and during the startup, inadvertently failed to prefill the residue treater vessel with solvent. A safety interlock was designed to stop workers from introducing highly-reactive methomyl, but it was bypassed as had been done in previous operations with managers’ knowledge. Once the chemical reaction of the highly concentrated methomyl started, it could not be stopped, and the temperature and pressure inside rose rapidly, finally causing an explosion.”
Read the news release in this link.

January 20, 2011

Another fire at IOC depot

A depot at a lube blending unit of Indianoil Corporation (IOC) experienced a major fire on Monday night. IOC is a government owned company. IOC also had a very major fire in Jaipur in 2009. Wonder what was the cause of this incident!
NDTV has a video in this link.

Catastrophic risk management

I read a nice article which succinctly summarizes how to identify and cover potential catastrophes their business might face. This is true for the Chemical industry also. I am quoting from the article below:
"1. Identify catastrophic events which could close your operations down in each of your business units and in each region/country in which you have set up shop. Every element of your product range and geographical footprint has its own set of unique risks.
Events can be classified as "internal" where a multiple failure of in-house systems can lead to catastrophe; or "external" where adverse political, economic or natural developments or shocks can cause premature extinction. For example, the range of events can include accidents, civil wars, state expropriation of assets, market collapse, massive disruption of supply chains and earthquakes/flooding.
2. Imaginatively play a scenario on each event highlighting the causal chain which can lead to the catastrophe and the impact on the business of the catastrophe itself. Where possible, select flags which may indicate a rise in the probability of the event occurring such as the abnormal withdrawal of a tide before a tsunami hits the beachfront.
3. With probability of occurrence on the vertical axis and seriousness of impact on the horizontal axis, locate each scenario on the chart so that you have a real feel for the ones you should prioritise in terms of response strategies and tactics. Which are the real catastrophes waiting to happen?
4. Make a list of all the organisations who have relevant roles to perform in the event of a catastrophic scenario materialising. In particular, work out where they fit in the decision-making structure and specifically the people in each organisation to contact as the disaster unfolds. Remember actions taken in the first 48 hours usually determine public perceptions about your competence in handling the event.
5. Just as a catastrophic fire scenario requires preventative measures as well as emergency procedures should it break out in a building or forest plantation, so each catastrophe scenario should carry its own sequence of pre-event and post-event drills. Each option should be subjected to a cost-benefit analysis so that you have the best drills in place to prevent the event happening and to contain it if it happens.
Simple, but very few companies – even among the top multinationals – practice catastrophic risk management. As for the example I quoted at the beginning on extreme weather events, the pieces that are missing are steps 4 and 5".

Read the full article in this link.

January 18, 2011

Leak detection in buried pipelines

A technique of leak detection in buried pipelines transporting hazardous chemicals has been reported in an article. The article mentions that "Distributed strain/deformation and temperature sensing for pipeline integrity monitoring is a useful tool that ideally complements the current monitoring and inspection activities, allowing a more dense acquisition of operational and safety parameters. The measurements can be performed at any point along the pipeline. Furthermore, the monitoring is continuous and does not interfere with regular pipeline operation in the way that other maintenance can. The method can also be applied to non-piggable pipes".
The article also mentions that the technique successfully detected a leak in a buried pipeline carrying brine. Read the article in this link.

January 17, 2011

Risk management - the risk is in the management!

Many articles are written about corporate risk management and its statutory requirements. Risk management in a chemical manufacturing company must also take into account the technological, asset integrity and manpower competency risk. In the board's of chemical manufacturing companies, there must be someone to understand these specific risks that are inherent in chemical units. Risk matrices when presented to the board often do not really communicate the risks the company is facing. No board of directors want an incident to happen.It is the failure in communicating these risks to the board that is most worrisome. At the present rates of attrition of management personnel in chemical industries in India, there may be a gap in risk communication to the board, with the result that an incident happens later.
When I conduct process safety management audits, I often observe a huge gap between what is happening at the ground level and the board's perception of management of process safety. The Baker panel report after the BP incident specifically recommended that a member of the board in chemical units must be someone who understands the process safety issues and can communicate the risk to the rest of the members of the board. But this is yet to happen. It is not a question of culture. It is a question of commitment. Without commitment there is no culture.

January 15, 2011

The report on the BP oil rig disaster - familiar lessons, familiar root causes

The Report to the President of USA by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling has been released.
I have summarized the key points from the investigation report:

"The final moments:
Down in the engine control room, Chief Mechanic Douglas Brown, an Army veteran employed by Transocean, was filling out the nightly log and equipment hours. He had spent the day fixing a saltwater pipe in one of the pontoons. First, he noticed an “extremely loud air leak sound.” Then a gas alarm sounded, followed by more and more alarms wailing. In the midst of that noise, Brown noticed someone over the radio. “I heard the captain or chief mate, I’m not sure who, make an announcement to the standby boat, the Bankston, saying we were in a well-control situation.” The vessel was ordered to back off to 500 meters. Now Brown could hear the rig’s engines revving. “I heard them revving up higher and higher and higher. Next I was expecting the engine trips to take over. . . . That did not happen. After that the power went out.” Seconds later, an explosion ripped through the pitch-black control room, hurtling him against the control panel, blasting away the floor.
Brown fell through into a subfloor full of cable trays and wires. A second huge explosion roared through, collapsing the ceiling on him. All around in the dark he could hear people screaming and crying for help.
Steve Bertone, the rig’s chief engineer, had been in bed, reading the first sentence of his book, when he noticed an odd noise. “As it progressively got louder, it sounded like a freight train coming through my bedroom and then there was a thumping sound that consecutively got much faster and with each thump, I felt the rig actually shake.” After a loud boom, the lights went out. He leapt out of bed, opening his door to let in the emergency hall light so he could get dressed. The overhead public-address system crackled to life: “Fire. Fire. Fire.”
Root Causes (failures in industry):
BP’s management process did not adequately identify or address risks created by late changes to well design and procedures. BP did not have adequate controls in place to ensure that key decisions in the months leading up to the blowout were safe or sound from an engineering perspective. While initial well design decisions undergo a serious peer review process155 and changes to well design are subsequently subject to a management of change (MOC) process,156 changes to drilling procedures in the weeks and days before implementation are typically not subject to any such peer-review or MOC process. At Macondo, such decisions appear to have been made by the BP Macondo team in ad hoc fashion without any formal risk analysis or internal expert review. This appears to have been a key causal factor of the blowout.
Halliburton and BP’s management processes did not ensure that cement was adequately tested. Halliburton had insufficient controls in place to ensure that laboratory testing was performed in a timely fashion or that test results were vetted rigorously in-house or with the client. In fact, it appears that Halliburton did not even have testing results in its possession showing the Macondo slurry was stable until after the job had been pumped. It is difficult to imagine a clearer failure of management or communication.
BP, Transocean, and Halliburton failed to communicate adequately. Information appears to have been excessively compartmentalized at Macondo as a result of poor communication. BP did not share important information with its contractors, or sometimes internally even with members of its own team. Contractors did not share important information with
BP or each other. As a result, individuals often found themselves making critical decisions without a full appreciation for the context in which they were being made (or even without recognition that the decisions were critical).
Transocean failed to adequately communicate lessons from an earlier near-miss to its crew. Transocean failed to adequately communicate to its crew lessons learned from an eerily similar near-miss on one of its rigs in the North Sea four months prior to the Macondo blowout. On December 23, 2009, gas entered the riser on that rig while the crew was displacing a well with seawater during a completion operation. As at Macondo, the rig’s crew had already run a negative-pressure test on the lone physical barrier between the pay zone and the rig, and had declared the test a success.163 The tested barrier nevertheless
failed during displacement, resulting in an influx of hydrocarbons. Mud spewed onto the rig floor—but fortunately the crew was able to shut in the well before a blowout occurred.Nearly one metric ton of oil-based mud ended up in the ocean. The incident cost Transocean 11.2 days of additional work and more than 5 million British pounds in expenses.
Decision making processes at Macondo did not adequately ensure that personnel fully considered the risks created by time- and money-saving decisions. Whether purposeful or not, many of the decisions that BP, Halliburton, and Transocean made that increased the risk of the Macondo blowout clearly saved those companies significant time (and money)".

For those of you who are interested in reading the complete report, here is the link. (File is large, be patient...)

Another reactor blast....and another tank blast

An explosion in a reactor in a plant in Vapi has injured at least 6 workers. As per news articles, The blast was powerful and had occurred due to "rupturing of a safety valve". Reading between the lines, it appears it is another case of a reaction gone wrong and inadequate rupture disc sizing.The sizing basis of safety valves and rupture discs need to be documented and understood by plant operators.
The blast wave from the explosion reportedly damaged windows and buildings. Blast waves are extremely dangerous. Read an explanation in this link.
Read the articles in this link: Link 1 and Link 2

Another incident reported is the explosion of an ammonia cylinder or tank in an ice factory in Karnataka. Read about it in this link.

January 13, 2011

Bhopal disaster - educating our future leaders

A news article mentions that, as part of standard 8 curriculum,the NCERT has introduced a new realistic account of the Bhopal gas disaster. I am happy that authorities are taking the correct steps and educating our children who will be future leaders of tomorrow. I strongly believe that the Bhopal Gas disaster and its lessons must be made mandatory for all students of MBA, chemical engineering,cost accountancy and chartered accountant aspirants.
The news article mentions the following:
"The Social Science edition, that was released this month, recounts the story of the Bhopal gas tragedy under the chapter Law and Social Justice. It not only has a report on the industrial disaster but also raises serious concerns about the fate of the gas-affected people and the weak environment laws in the country.It dwells on how taking advantage of weak environment laws and availability of cheap labour, environmentally dangerous plants open in developing nations.
Several photographs of the incident, victims, deaths and protests have been published in the book. The background colour of the pages has been kept black while the headlines and photo captions are highlighted in red colour.
A caption of one of the pictures says: "Dow, how many more must die?"
The account begins: "The world's worst industrial tragedy took place in Bhopal 24 years ago. Union Carbide (UC), an American company, had a factory in the city in which it produced pesticides. At midnight of 2 December, methyl-isocyanate (MIC) - a highly poisonous gas - started leaking from the UC plant..."
"Within three days, more than 8,000 people were dead. Hundreds of thousands were maimed."Most of those exposed to the poison gas came from poor, working-class families, of which nearly 50,000 people are today sick to work. Among those who survived, many developed severe respiratory disorders, eye problems and other disorders. Children developed peculiar abnormalities, like the girl in the photo."
"The disaster was not an accident. UC had deliberately ignored the essential safety measures in order to cut costs. Much before the Bhopal disaster, there had been incidents of gas leak killing a worker and injuring several."
"24 years later, people are still fighting for justice: for safe drinking water, for healthcare facilities and jobs for the people poisoned by UC. They also demand that (Warren) Anderson, the UC chairman who faces criminal charges, be prosecuted."
Criticising government apathy in allowing the factory to come up, a paragraph of the chapter reads: "Government officials refused to recognize the plant as hazardous and allowed it to come up in a populated locality. When some municipal officials in Bhopal objected that the installation of an MIC production unit in 1978 was a safety violation, the position of the government was that the state needs the continued investment of the Bhopal plant, which provides jobs."
It also has a comparative account of Union Carbide's safety system in Bhopal and its other plant in the United States."At West Virginia (USA.) computerised warning and monitoring systems were in place, whereas the UC plant in Bhopal relied on manual gauges and the human senses to detect gas leaks. At the West Virginia plant, emergency evacuation plans were in place, but non-existent in Bhopal."

I hope the contents of the book are not revised!
Read the article in this link.

January 12, 2011

Iphone app manages fatigue

An Iphone app has been developed that manages fatigue of flight crew. "The predictions are based on the Boeing Alertness Model developed jointly by Boeing and Jeppesen, which is based on a modified version of the long-validated Three Process Model of Alertness. This contains circadian and homeostatic components to yield predicted alertness.
The modular design of the fatigue risk management solution, however, allows operators to make use of alternative alertness models if desired.An iPhone application based on the Boeing Alertness Model called CrewAlert has also been released by Jeppesen. Available in the Apple App Store for $19.99, CrewAlert is billed as "the first app designed specifically to help airlines and their crews manage alertness and fatigue".
This is an interesting development and maybe we in the chemical industry can use a similar type of app for managing worker fatigue!
Read the article in this link.

Ammonia leak incidents

An ammonia leak in a poultry company in US has forced the evacuation of 800 people. The leak occurred from a refrigeration system. The leak inside the plant was so thick the emergency workers "could'nt even see".
It appears that the plant was an "aging" plant. This again raises the question of how residual life assessment of equipment is tracked by companies.Read the article in this link.
Another ammonia leak from a gas cylinder in India which later caused a fire has also been reported. Time and again I see gas cylinders treated with scant respect in many companies. Read the articles about the ammonia incident in these links
Link 1
Link 2

January 9, 2011

H2S leak at manganese plant in China kills 3

The dangers of toxic gases like H2S are often underestimated. Plant personnel must be always aware of the various ways in which H2S can be generated and its dangers. In a manganese plant in China, three people were killed due to a H2S leak. The manufacture of manganese involves reducing the milled ore, which is then dissolved in acid solution, followed by purification.The solution is then fed into the electrolytic cells, where manganese is deposited on the cathodes. Sulphuric acid, formed at the anodes, is re-cycled back to the dissolution process.
Read the full article about the accident in this link.

Bhopal - Pictures speak a thousand words

A fellow blogger had compiled various images of the Bhopal Gas Disaster and its continuing aftermath. See it in this link.

Purse String Management Vs PSM

Purse Strings Management (PSM!) has a direct effect on the management of process safety. Controlling costs is important for a company to achieve profitability. But the question that arises is - at what point does it stop? For example - maintenance budgets - how should they be allocated? Money required to keep equipment in running condition is one thing but how about money to assess residual life and scheduling replacements? A distinct trend in chemical process industries is the high turnover of personnel, even at the top management level. This has a direct effect on the amount of effort that a manufacturing head will take to ensure that money required for process safety issues is budgeted and spent. I am observing a dangerous trend of maintenance budgets not paying heed to process safety issues in many companies. Wake up before it is too late!
Many articles blame it on "poor culture". I would say it in one sentence "short term gains overriding process safety". No amount of behavioural change programs will help unless some one at the top is in a position to understand and recognise the risks that a chemical industry faces. The truth is bitter!

January 7, 2011

BP oil spill- Process safety and its Management

A news article mentions the following from the report of the presidential commission set up to investigate the BP oil sill disaster:
"A "complacent" attitude to safety and a cost-cutting culture by BP's management and that of its partners contributed to the oil spill that ravaged the Gulf of Mexico last year, the official US inquiry has ruled.
A pre-released chapter from the final report of the White House oil spill commission set up by President Barack Obama is scathing in its attack on management failure, warning that the cause of the crisis was "systemic" and that without reform of the industry a similar disaster "might well recur".
"Most of the mistakes and oversights at Macondo can be traced back to a single overarching failure – a failure of management. Better management by BP, Halliburton, and Transocean would almost certainly have prevented the blow-out," the report said.
It added: "Whether purposeful or not, many of the decisions that BP, Halliburton, and Transocean made that increased the risk of the Macondo blowout clearly saved those companies significant time (and money)."
BP staff are accused of making several critical mistakes, including the misinterpretation of a vital "negative pressure test" to check that the well had been properly sealed before removing the rig. The report said BP's "fundamental mistake" was its failure to exercise caution before relying on the cement as a barrier to the flow of oil and gas up the well.
BP's US partners, Halliburton and Transocean, do not escape censure either. Halliburton is criticised for failing to ensure the cement used to seal the well had been tested properly. Transocean, which owned and ran the rig, is attacked for not learning the lessons of a similar incident that almost led to an accident in the North Sea four months prior to the Macondo disaster".

Read the full article in this link.

One killed in explosion in chlorine plant

An explosion in a chlorine plant has killed one person and released chlorine gas in a plant in France. It is reported that "leak of water containing sodium caused this explosion". It is not clear what is meant by this. Read the full article in this link

January 6, 2011

Major fire in depot near Rotterdam

A major fire has been reported in a tank depot near Rotterdam. The facility reportedly has 10 tanks storing chemicals.
Read the article in this link
See a youtube video in this link

Refinery cited for multiple safety hazards

OSHA has cited Pasadena Refining Services Inc. with 21 serious violations for exposing workers to multiple safety and health hazards at the company's facility in Pasadena. Proposed penalties total $115,650.
"The serious violations include failing to provide properly constructed scaffolds, provide supports to hold piping, provide controls to prevent valves from closing, conduct annual confined space audits, ensure guard rails are adequate, and ensure that operating procedures are up-to-date and accurate. A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known".

It is interesting to note that these violations have occurred even though PSM is mandatory.
Read the article in this link

January 4, 2011

Fire in oil storage depots in India

Thanks to Abhay Gujar for this info:
In the current year (2010-11) 4 instances of fires have been reported at oil depots in India:
A fire occurred at a railway siding due to spark from the overhead power line. Reason: Poor maintenance.
A fire incident took place at a Terminal's engineering store due to electrical short circuit.Reason: Poor maintenance.
Another incident took place in the cabin of TT at a Depot.Reason: Poor maintenance of TT and unsafe operating practices.
A fire broke out at a railway siding while loading.Reason: Unsafe practice and non-adherence to safety standards.The company has been advised by OISD to close the railway siding for all operations since it endangers the public life as it is close to the main Delhi-Kolkata railway track.

January 3, 2011

Risk factors in the Chemical Industry

An article mentions the risk factors identified by the American Insurance Association after investigating incidents in chemical industries. Some of them are mentioned below:
1. Factory site
(1) vulnerable to earthquakes, floods, storms natural disasters
(2) water is not sufficient
(3) the lack of public Fire Facilities support
(4) high humidity, temperature and other climate change
(5) nearby hazardous impact of large industrial installations
(6) close to highways, railways, airports and other transportation facilities
(7) difficult to safely evacuate
2. Plant layout
(1) process equipment and storage equipment is too intensive
(2) have significant risk and risk-free process safety distance between devices is not enough
(3) expensive equipment too concentrated
(4) the absence of effective protection
(5) boiler, heaters and other sources of ignition too close
(6) with terrain obstacles
3. Structure
(1) supports, doors, walls and other structures are not fire proofed
(2) Electric Equipment without protective measures
(3) inadequate capacity of explosion-proof ventilation
(4) plant is weakened (corrosion)
4. The risk of lack of knowledge of processing material
(1) hazards of mixing raw materials and natural decomposition
(2) potential for gas and dust explosions
(3) not understanding the result of misuse, or poorly controlled process
5. Chemical Technology
(1) inadequate data on the chemical reaction kinetics
(2) lack of knowledgeof the dangerous side effects
(3) does not determine the decomposition energy according to thermodynamics
(4) detection of process abnormalities is not adequate.
6. Material handling
(1) incomplete labeling of products
(2) in adequate Explosion detection/suppression device
7. Maloperation
(1) ignoring maintenance
(2)lack of supervisory role of management
(3) driving and parking plan is inadequate
(4) the lack of emergency shutdown training
(5) not establishing collaboration between operation and security personnel
8. Device Defects
(1) caused by improper selection of equipment corrosion, damage
(2) inadequate equipment, such as the lack of reliable control instrumentation
(3) material fatigue
(4) the metal material is not adequate or no inspection by experts
(5) structural defects
(6) equipment operating above design limits
9. Disaster plan
(1) did not receive strong support from management
(2) the division of responsibilities is not clear
(3) no accident prevention program

Read the article in this link.

January 2, 2011

Ammonia gas cylinder burst

An incident in an ice factory of an ammonia gas cylinder that burst killing one has occurred in West Bengal. It appears that the factory was located in a residential area and that the Municipality had renewed its licence. The article mentions
"Fire fighters risked their health and entered the factory on Saturday to repair the gas tanker. They lodged an FIR with Titagarh police against the factory owner. Officials of the Disaster Management Group (DGM) and BSF jawans also reached the spot as the tanker repair continued under their supervision. Fire officials complained that the ice factory was being run illegally in a crowded area.
"All the tankers and cylinders containing gas were in use for a long time. They had not been changed despite many tankers and cylinders being outdated. There was also no fire prevention arrangement there," said S Dubey, a senior fire official of North Barrackpore".
I often see gas cylinders being transported in autorickshaws with the cylinder cap protruding out. Authorities must be trained on the dangers of gas cylinders and its handling and transport.
Read more in these links: Link 1, Link 2

Natural gas pipeline leak from cavern storage

A natural gas pipeline that was connected to an underground cavern storage has reportedly leaked in the USA. News reports indicate that the gas from the cavern is now being vented to atmosphere.
The article mentions the following:
The following information is being relayed by Incident Command: As a safety precaution, we are still proceeding with the depressurization of the storage cavern as planned. The depressurization began about 3 p.m. Tuesday. We’re still venting gas to the atmosphere. This is a controlled process. The natural gas vented into the atmosphere will dissipate into the air and does not pose a health hazard to neighbors. Since 3 p.m. yesterday (Tuesday), we’ve vented about 400 million cubic feet. The flow rate is currently around 225 million cubic feet per day. We do not have an estimated timeline of how long the venting will take before the pressure in cavern 3 is zero.
Read my earlier post on gas cavern storage.
Now, I do not have the details of the leak but I was wondering why the whole cavern has to be vented.
Read the articles in these links: Article 1, Article 2

January 1, 2011

Incident Investigations in India - Aviation and Chemical

A news article mentions that an independent committee will henceforth investigate aviation incidents in India. The article mentions
"Currently, DGCA officials conduct probe into most of the accidents. "The same authority cannot be the prosecutor, investigator and the judge," said Zaidi, referring to the need to keep the DGCA away from probe into accidents.
In the last two months, the DGCA has been trying to make the investigation process transparent. For the first time in India, investigation reports of two serious incidents were made public. The first one was the November 2009 Kingfisher Airlines ATR aircraft runway overrun accident at Mumbai airport.
The second involved the Air India Express Dubai-Pune flight, which plunged several feet after the commander left the cockpit and the first officer could not handle the flight controls.
However within days of making the reports public, the DGCA had to pull them off its website after several technical questions about the quality of the probe were raised by air safety experts. For instance, the DGCA investigation report called the Kingfisher Airlines case a "serious incident". Going by International Civil Aviation Organisation's definition though it was clearly an "accident
Currently, DGCA officials conduct probe into most of the accidents. "The same authority cannot be the prosecutor, investigator and the judge," said Zaidi, referring to the need to keep the DGCA away from probe into accidents".

It is high time that accidents in the chemical industry in India are also investigated by an independent agency.
Read the article in this link.