August 29, 2016

Investigation report on Ammonia gas leak

A few posts back, I had written about the ammonia gas leak in a Bangladesh DAP plant that affected many. The district administration's investigation has determined the following:
  • The company constructed the 500-tonnes reserve tank in 2006.The tank was filled with 250 tonnes of ammonia gas when it collapsed on the night of Aug 22.
  •  Tank was maintained by unskilled staff. Five essential safety equipment, that were needed to prevent the tank’s collapse, had been out of commission for a long time.“The two pressure gauges of the tank were out of order long before the accident took place. Both the pressure transmitters of the reserve tank were inoperative. The condenser, safety valves and pressure vent were also out of order,” said the investigator. 
  •  The factory’s operation department had informed the maintenance department about the faults but they did not pay heed
  • The gas spread far and wide so rapidly because the fire hydrant system of the fertliser factory did not work after the accident.”
Read the article on the investigation in this link.

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August 28, 2016

Molten sulphur tank explosion in refinery in USA

News reports coming in of a molten sulphur tank explosion in a refinery in USA . No one was injured. Read about the incident and see the video in this link

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August 27, 2016

Confined space incident during rubber lining of a tank

Two workers who were involved in the rubber lining of a metallic tank located in a university campus died as a result of the confined space becoming full of chemical vapours. Basic precautions were not taken. The government appointed a fact finding team whose report you can read in this link.
Read another article on the safety of unorganised labourers in this link.

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August 26, 2016

Containing the contents - Chernobyl

The massive effort to provide a containment for the damaged Chernobyl nuclear reactors is worth a read. Funded by the G7 countries along with contributions fom many countries, the USD 1.7 billion effort is to construct " A New Safe Confinement that is 110 metres high and 165 metres long, and has a span of 260 metres and a lifetime of a minimum of 100 years. When completed, the New Safe Confinement will prevent the release of contaminated material from the present shelter and at the same time protect the structure from external impacts such as extreme weather.The new structure will be an extraordinary landmark, tall enough to house London’s St Paul’s or Paris’ Notre Dame cathedrals, To minimise the risk of workers’ exposure to radiation, it has been assembled in the vicinity of the site and will be slid into position before the end of 2016.The arch-shaped structure will weigh more than 30,000 tons. Its frame is a huge lattice construction of tubular steel members, supported by two longitudinal concrete beams.It will provide a safe working environment equipped with heavy duty cranes for the future dismantling of the shelter and waste management after the completion of the NSC.It will be strong enough to withstand a tornado and its sophisticated ventilation system will eliminate the risk of corrosion, ensuring that there is no need to replace the coating and expose workers to radiation during the structure’s lifetime."

Read more about it in the EBRD website in this link.

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August 23, 2016

Ammonia leak from DAP plant affects many in Bangladesh

An ammonia leak from a DAP plant in Bangladesh has reportedly affected many people. Reports indicate that the DAP plant was located near a urea complex and the capacity of the tank that leaked was 500 MT.
Read the article in this link

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August 21, 2016

Inappropriate maintenance practices and fire protection lead to excavator fire

Inappropriate maintenance  practices and fire protection lead  to excavator fire

For plants which operate payloaders and other heavy equipment, ensure this is not repeated in your facility.

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August 19, 2016

Interesting human factors incident

Interesting incident about a plane descending 4000 feet as a camera carried by the pilot got wedged between the seat and yoke in this link

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August 18, 2016

Fatalities during manual tank gauging

An innocuous looking task such as tank gauging has claimed the life of 9 people in the oil and gas sector as per OSHA.  Read the safety alert in this link and share it with your personnel who gauge such tanks.

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August 2, 2016

Mobile phone usage in chemical plants

I am reproducing a good discussion in a process safety forum in Linkedin (Process safety management) here:
  • David Moore Allowing mobile phone use in a control room is not an area classification issue. Control rooms are typically located within a NEC classified area but the interior of the control room is not classified - i.e. it's unclassified. Control rooms are kept unclassified by means of a ventilation system keeping the control room environment at a pressure higher than the outside atmosphere. This pressurized system keeps outside toxic or explosive vapors from leaking into the control room. Since the control room is unclassified then any general purpose electrical device is allowed in the control room. As a matter of fact, it would be impossible to have all the electronics that are necessary to be in the control room be intrinsically safe or explosion proof. This is why control rooms are unclassified. 
  • Karl-Fred Woerner I agree with David. One reason not to allow mobile phones in control room is potential distraction. We do not allow privat mobile phones in control rooms. Before allowing mobile phones in a blast resistant building you should also check connectivity because the steel used in the construction migth might function as a shield.

  • Richard Palluzi Standard cell phones are not approved for electrically classified areas. Yet many studies have indicated that the chance of ignition is very low. Most petrochemical organizations will not allow them; I suspect more from a liability issue than a technical issue. It would be great to have an AICHE, ISA, API, ASSE, or NFPA study of the real technical risks. Sadly it's unlikely to happen as testing is very expensive and with the large number of different types doing any meaningful testing is probably problematical at best.
    In addition to the potential ignition source issues, the question of distractions always arises. Yet, at the same time, most organizations have so integrated cell phone use into their daily business that lack of access is a definite reduction in efficiency. The impossible (or at least very difficult) issue to address is how to allow normal company business while excluding needless distractions. Most organizations have some restrictions in place at least on paper.

  • Luis Eduardo Pardo Diaz Greetings, there are several reasons why cell phone use in control rooms is prohibited, among the most outstanding are:
    1. distracter for operations: can you imagine an operator control panel working and talking on the phone at the same time? ¿Differentiating between sounds alarm signals and tones phone?
    Simply because of the sensitivity of the operations control room, should minimize the factors which could cause distraction operators control panel. This is the main reason for the restriction.
    2. Possibly the emission of signals or other cellular radios, instruments may alter operating wirelessly, which generate false signals and the problems that we know that these can generate.
    3. The cell phone is not a certified electronic equipment for hazardous areas and remember that by the characteristics of the control room, they can be exposed to flammable gases and vapors, and cell element could be the initiator of an explosion or fire.
    Happy day.

  • Daniel Lewis In the classified area - Agreed, standard personal mobile phones are not rated and therefore present a risk of fire, even if this risk is low.
    In unrated control rooms or break rooms - There are numerous other unrated electrical devices in these rooms, so they do not create an increased ignition risk. It is a management issue to make sure employees are not using them excessively, and that they do not carry them outside into the classified area. 

  • Jeremy Roland My question would by why do they want to have cell phones in those areas? Typically the floor employees have no need for a phone to conduct their tasks. Often times they will never even question these policies. Managers on the other hand seem to be unable, or unwilling to put their phones down. They often question these policies because they feel that they need to have their phone on them at all times. My question to them would be what is more important not missing an email, text, or call or not blowing themselves and everyone else up. . Even if the chances are a million to one that it could happen i would not want to risk being that one.
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