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This page contains previous items from our Latest News feature.

Primatech's Dr. Paul Baybutt authors paper on the validity of engineering judgment and expert opinion in hazard and risk analysis

Publish Date: 2018-06-04
Category: Primatech News

The paper was published in Process Safety Progress, Process Safety Progress, Volume 37, pages 205-210, Issue 2, June 2018.


Hazard and risk analysis depends heavily on human decision making in the form of engineering judgment and expert opinion. Human decision making may be flawed by the effects of heuristics and cognitive biases. The influence of these psychological factors may invalidate the results of hazard and risk analysis studies. They must be managed carefully to minimize their possible adverse impacts. This article provides a pragmatic view of cognitive biases and guidance on how to address them in hazard and risk analysis.


CSB Issues Final Report on 2017 Arkema Chemical Plant Fire

Publish Date: 2018-05-29
Category: Industry News

On May 24, 2018, the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) issued its final report on the fire that occurred at the Arkema Inc. chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, on August 31, 2017.

The Arkema Crosby facility manufactures liquid organic peroxides some of which must be kept below 32 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent them from decomposing and igniting. In the days prior to the incident, extensive flooding from Hurricane Harvey disabled both the plant’s main and backup refrigeration systems. As a result, peroxides decomposed and burned, releasing fumes and smoke into the air. All of Arkema’s employees and over 200 nearby residents were evacuated.

The CSB investigation found that there is a significant lack of guidance in planning for flooding and other severe weather events at chemical process facilities. Key recommendations from the CSB include:

  • Facilities should perform an analysis to determine susceptibility to potential extreme natural events such as flooding, earthquakes, and high winds. 
  • Companies should evaluate the potential risk of extreme weather events and the adequacy of safeguards when conducting process hazard analysis or facility siting studies.
  • Facilities should strive to apply a sufficiently conservative risk management approach when evaluating and mitigating the risk from extreme weather events. 
  • For flooding risks, facilities must ensure that critical safeguards and equipment are not susceptible to common cause failures and that independent layers of protection are available in the event of high water levels.


Read the CSB news release.

Read the CSB final report.   

View the CSB animation of the incident.

Watch the CSB safety video, “Caught in the Storm: Extreme Weather Hazards.”


Gas Explosion in Pasadena, TX

Publish Date: 2018-05-22
Category: Industry News

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is investigating a May 19, 2018 gas explosion and subsequent flash fire at the Kuraray America plant in Pasadena, Texas that reportedly injured 21 workers. The company is a specialty chemical manufacturer and the facility produces ethylene vinyl-alcohol copolymers. 

Resignation of CSB Chairperson Sutherland

Publish Date: 2018-05-22
Category: Industry News

Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland announced that she will be stepping down and resigning from the position of Chair and Board Member of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board effective June, 2018. Board members will be required to vote on an interim executive, unless and until the White House nominates and the U.S. Senate confirms a new Chairperson. 

EPA Signs Proposed RMP Reconsideration Rule

Publish Date: 2018-05-17
Category: Industry News

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator signed a proposed Risk Management Program (RMP) Reconsideration rule on May 17, 2018, requesting public comment on several proposed changes to the final RMP Amendments issued January 13, 2017. The EPA has provided a 60-day comment period on these proposed changes which would overturn or modify provisions of that rule pertaining to facilities operating with hazardous materials.

More information about the final amendments to the RMP rule is available at:


Primatech has published a white paper that describes a procedure for conducting Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA) studies according to the requirements of NFPA 652-2016.

Publish Date: 2018-04-06
Category: Primatech News

This white paper describes a procedure developed by Primatech for performing Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA) studies, according to NFPA 652-2016, Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust. This standard applies to industrial facilities that pose combustible dust hazards, including a wide variety of industries that use dust collection and handling equipment or have processes that generate combustible dusts.

You may view the white paper by clicking on its title:

Procedure for Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA) (PDF format)

Primatech's Dr. Paul Baybutt authors book chapter on Security Vulnerability Analysis

Publish Date: 2018-03-05
Category: Primatech News

Dr. Baybutt authored the chapter, Security Vulnerability Analysis (SVA): Protecting Process Plants from Physical and Cyber Threats, in the book:

Security Risk Assessment in the Chemical and Process Industry, Genserik Reniers, Nima Khakzad, and Pieter Van Gelder (Editors), De Gruyter, 2018.

The chapter describes SVA methods that can be used to evaluate threat scenarios that originate with hostile action to gain access to processes in order to cause harm. Both physical attacks that target processes within facilities and cyber attacks that seek to manipulate computer systems, such as those used for process control, are addressed.

Primatech's Dr. Paul Baybutt authors paper on guidelines for designing risk matrices

Publish Date: 2018-03-05
Category: Primatech News

The paper was published in Process Safety Progress, Process Safety Progress, Volume 37, pages 49–55, Issue 1, March 2018.


Risk matrices are used widely in process safety to rate and rank risks posed by processes to help with decision making. For example, commonly they are used in process hazard analysis to rate the risks of hazard scenarios and determine the need for risk reduction. However, there are no standards for risk matrices in process safety. Companies develop their own without the benefit of established industry guidelines. Risk matrices are deceptively simple but their design and use are rife with pitfalls, even for experienced users. Some of these pitfalls are not obvious and invalid risk ratings can result which are unrecognized. Guidelines for constructing risk matrices that address these pitfalls are provided.

Investigations Underway for Cause of Deadly Blast at Gas Well Site in Oklahoma

Publish Date: 2018-01-26
Category: Industry News

A January 22nd explosion at a gas drilling operation near Quinton, Oklahoma consumed the rig site, and resulted in five worker fatalities. Seventeen other onsite employees were able to get out safely. The incident occurred at a new gas well site operated by a privately-held oil and gas exploration company.

Although the cause of the explosion is unclear, initial assessments indicate that a possible uncontrolled release of gas caught fire and that efforts to shut down the well were unsuccessful. Early findings suggest that a blowout preventer designed to automatically shut down the well failed.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission are investigating the accident.

Primatech has published a white paper that provides a primer on understanding cyber security for the manufacturing and process industries.

Publish Date: 2017-12-11
Category: Primatech News

This white paper explains and defines industrial cyber security and the vocabulary used, identifies threats and vulnerabilities for computer systems, describes techniques and methods used by adversaries in attacking them, and identifies cyber security protective measures that can be implemented.

You may view the white paper by clicking on its title below:

Making Sense of Industrial Cyber Security (PDF format)