Chemical plant blast: Inherent safety

What went wrong: A new safety video is out that looks at inherent safety which is the result of the August 28, 2008, explosion that killed two workers and injured eight others at the Bayer CropScience chemical plant in Institute, W.V.

08/01/2012


ISS SourceWhat went wrong: A new safety video is out that looks at inherent safety which is the result of the Aug. 28, 2008, explosion that killed two workers and injured eight others at the Bayer CropScience chemical plant in Institute, W.V.

As a result of ongoing concern regarding the safety of the facility Congress directed the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) to commission the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to study the feasibility of reducing or eliminating the inventory of methyl isocynanate (MIC) stored at the Bayer plant.

The video, entitled “Inherently Safer: The Future of Risk Reduction” explores the concept of “Inherent Safety” and could apply at the Bayer facility. The NAS panel noted the goal of inherently safer design is not only to prevent an accident, but to reduce the consequences of an accident should one occur. The video features interviews with NAS panel members and staff as well as commentary from the CSB Chair and investigators.

“The first choice after an accident is to ask how can we improve the disaster so it can’t happen again,” said industry expert and Texas A+M professor Trevor Kletz. “Very often we can change the design very cheaply and very easily, but people don’t do it, they don’t see it.”

The video discusses the findings from the CSB’s investigation and the catastrophic consequences the 2008 accident could have had on the surrounding community.

“The CSB determined that the explosion at Bayer could have caused a release of MIC into the nearby community,” said CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso. “And it raised a question – was there an inherently safer alternative to storing and using this highly toxic chemical?”

The NAS report found while Bayer and previous owners of the site incorporated some considerations of inherently safer technology, these companies “did not perform systematic and complete inherently safer process assessments on the processes for manufacturing MIC or the carbamate pesticides at the Institute site.” Thus large amounts of MIC, phosgene, and other toxic materials ended up produced or stored at the site for decades.

There are four main components of inherently safer design as identified by the NAS study. They are substitute, minimize, moderate and simplify.

  • Substitute: Replacing one material with another that is less hazardous
  • Minimize: Reducing the amount of hazardous material in the process
  • Moderate: Using less hazardous process conditions such as lower pressures or temperatures
  • Simplify: Designing processes to be less complicated, and therefore less prone to failure.

“Inherently safer design is a philosophy for design and operation of any technology, including chemical processing,” said industry expert Dennis Hendershot. “It’s not a specific technology or a set of tools and activities, but it’s really an approach to design and it’s a way of thinking.”

On March 18, 2011, Bayer said it would not restart MIC production at the plant and would end the manufacturing of carbamate pesticides deemed hazardous by the World Health Organization. The Bayer plant no longer produces or stores MIC.

The CSB said the NAS study and other publications show how the chemical industry could benefit from incorporating the principles of inherently safer design into making decisions – decisions which will satisfy the interests of chemical companies, workers, and members of the communities near their plants.



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
Strategic outsourcing delivers efficiency; Sleeve bearing clearance; Causes of water hammer; Improve air quality; Maintenance safety; GAMS preview
World-class maintenance: The three keys to success - Deploy people, process and technology; 2016 Lubrication Guide; Why hydraulic systems get hot
Flexible offshore fire protection; Big Data's impact on operations; Bridging the skills gap; Identifying security risks
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me