[ID] => 9726
[post_author] => 34
[post_date] => 2018-05-29 16:55:57
[post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-29 15:55:57
[post_content] => The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has called for “more robust industry guidance to help hazardous chemical facilities better prepare for extreme weather events” as a result of its investigation into the fire at the Arkema plant in Crosby, Texas in August 2017. The incident happened in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which cut off power to the flooded plant; organic peroxides stored in temperature-controlled warehouses and trailers decomposed and caught fire.
“Considering that extreme weather events are likely to increase in number and severity, the chemical industry must be prepared for worst case scenarios at their facilities,” says CSB chair Vanessa Allen Sutherland. “We cannot stop the storms but, working together, we can mitigate the damage and avoid a future catastrophic incident.”
NO WAY OUT
The Arkema chemical plant manufactures and distributes organic peroxides used to produce a wide range of consumer goods. Some of the organic peroxides produced at the plant must be kept below 0˚C to prevent them from decomposing and catching fire. Under normal operating conditions, the organic peroxides are stored in low-temperature warehouses and shipped in refrigerated trailers.
Extensive flooding caused by heavy rainfall from Hurricane Harvey caused the plant to lose power and backup power to all of the low-temperature warehouses. Workers at the Arkema facility moved the organic peroxides from the warehouses to refrigerated trailers, which were then relocated to a high elevation area of the plant. Three of those trailers, however, were unable to be moved and eventually flooded and failed. With refrigeration on those trailers lost, there was nothing to stop the chemicals inside from heating up and catching fire.
All of Arkema’s employees were evacuated from the facility and more than 200 residents living nearby the facility were evacuated and could not return home for a week. More than 20 people sought medical attention from reported exposures to the fumes and smoke released into the air.
“Our investigation found that there is a significant lack of guidance in planning for flooding or other severe weather events,” says Sutherland. “As we prepare for this year’s hurricane season, it is critical that industry better understand the safety hazards posed by extreme weather events.”
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
In its final report on the incident, CSB stresses that companies handling high-hazard chemicals in areas that are susceptible to extreme weather events should:
- perform an analysis to determine susceptibility to potential extreme natural events such as flooding, earthquakes, and high winds,
- when conducting analyses of process hazards or facility siting, evaluate the potential risk of extreme weather events and the adequacy of safeguards,
- strive to apply a sufficiently conservative risk management approach, and
- if flooding is the risk, facilities must ensure that critical safeguards and equipment are not susceptible to failure by a common cause and that independent layers of protection are available in the event of high water levels.
As part of its efforts to disseminate lessons from the Arkema incident, CSB has prepared a safety video, Caught in the Storm: Extreme Weather Hazards
, which can be viewed on the CSB website
[post_title] => Weather hazards: Power down
[post_status] => publish
[comment_status] => open
[ping_status] => open
[post_name] => weather-hazards-power
[post_modified] => 2018-05-29 16:55:57
[post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-29 15:55:57
[post_parent] => 0
[guid] => https://www.hcblive.com/?p=9726
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Weather hazards: Power down
Companies handling high-hazard chemicals need to pay more attention to extreme weather events, CSB says