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This page contains previous items from our Latest News feature.

Primatech's Dr. Paul Baybutt authors letter to the editor of Process Safety Progress

Publish Date: 2024-04-25
Category: Primatech News

Primatech's Dr. Paul Baybutt authors letter to the editor of Process Safety Progress, On the Use of AI Chatbots for Process Safety.

The article can be accessed at http://doi.org/10.1002/prs.12611.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Strengthens Safety Rules for Chemical Plants

Publish Date: 2024-03-18
Category: Industry News

The EPA announced tightened safety regulations for chemical plants, reversing Trump-era relaxations. These measures include requiring companies to assess safer technologies and reinstating  root cause analysis after accidents to prevent future incidents.

Introduced during the Obama administration after a 2013 Texas fertilizer plant explosion that claimed 15 lives, the updated regulations mandate high-accident sectors to create plans and implement safeguards, highlight companies’ responsibility to evaluate natural disaster hazards, and make more safety risk information available to nearby communities.

The EPA's decision impacts around 12,000 industrial facilities, including chemical manufacturers, distributors, oil refineries, food and beverage manufacturers, and agricultural supply distributors. 

CSB Releases Final Report on Vapor Explosion and Fire at Yenkin-Majestic Facility in Columbus, OH

Publish Date: 2023-12-13
Category: Industry News

On November 30, 2023, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) released its final report on the flammable vapor explosion and fire at the Yenkin-Majestic facility in Columbus, Ohio that occurred on April 8, 2021. The incident resulted in one fatality and eight injuries. Nearby buildings were damaged, and a fire broke out at an adjacent property The explosion was reported to have shaken nearby homes and was seen, heard, or felt throughout parts of Columbus. Yenkin-Majestic estimated that the incident caused over $90 million in property damage to the site.

The explosion and fire resulted from the escape of a mixture of flammable naphtha solvent vapors and resin liquid through the seal of a closed manway of an operating kettle. The CSB determined that the release occurred through the closed manway after the kettle became pressurized by the rapid vaporization of solvent in the kettle when the kettle’s agitator was switched on after it was discovered that the agitator had not been operating while the solvent was being added to the kettle, as it should have been. In its investigation, the CSB found that the manway was  not designed, constructed, or pressure tested to a design pressure appropriate for the process.

The CSB issued recommendations to Yenkin-Majestic relating to the mechanical integrity of low- pressure vessels, safeguard selection and the hierarchy of controls, and emergency preparedness.

The CSB also issued a recommendation to the American Petroleum Institute (API) to develop guidance for low-pressure process vessels in flammable and other highly hazardous chemicals service that do not exceed an internal pressure of 15 psig. The CSB further recommended that  the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) work with API with in developing this guidance.

You can read the full report on CSB's website.

2024 Training schedule released

Publish Date: 2023-08-14
Category: Primatech News

Looking ahead to 2024, our comprehensive training schedule is here to equip you with essential process safety, security, and risk management knowledge. Primatech takes pride in offering over 30 diverse training courses and technical briefings, designed to empower professionals like you in ensuring safety and efficiency within your industry.

View the full schedule

CSB Report Reveals Causes of Optima Belle Explosion and Calls for Enhanced Chemical Regulations

Publish Date: 2023-07-11
Category: Industry News

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has released its final report on the December 8, 2020 explosion at the Optima Belle LLC (Optima) facility in Belle, WV. The incident occurred during Optima’s production of a sanitizing compound. Water was being removed from the compound in a dryer when the compound underwent a runaway decomposition reaction that over-pressurized the dryer causing it to explode and release toxic chlorine gas. One employee was killed. Metal debris and dryer fragments were propelled off-site and within the facility, striking a methanol pipe that then caught fire, leading to an estimated $33.1 million in property damage. Also, a shelter-in-place order was issued for the neighboring community. 

Optima’s drying process was not subject to regulation by either the OSHA Process Safety Management (PSM) standard or the EPA Risk Management Program (RMP) rule and Optima did not have a process safety management program. In addition to recommending that the companies involved in the incident correct deficiencies in their programs and operations, the CSB is once again calling on OSHA and EPA to close a gap in their chemical regulations and provide additional coverage of reactive chemicals.

You can read the full report on CSB's website.

CSB Releases Final Report on Tank Farm Fire at Intercontinental Terminals Company Facility

Publish Date: 2023-07-11
Category: Industry News

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has released its final report on the March 17, 2019 tank farm fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Company, LLC (ITC) facility in Deer Park, Texas. The fire resulted in over 150 million dollars in property damage, a major environmental impact, and the issuance of multiple shelter-in-place orders.

The CSB found that a circulation pump connected to a large above-ground atmospheric storage tank failed, allowing a butane-enriched naphtha product contained in the tank to escape and eventually ignite causing a fire to erupt and engulf the tank piping manifold. Once the fire erupted, ITC was unable to isolate or stop the release and the fire burned, intensified, and spread to the other 14 tanks located in the same containment area. The fire burned for three days until it was finally extinguished.

The CSB report highlighted five key safety issues. ITC did not have a formal mechanical integrity procedure to maintain the integrity of the tank and its associated equipment, including the circulation pump.

The tank was not equipped with a flammable gas detention system to warn personnel of a hazardous atmosphere resulting from loss of containment from the tank or its associated equipment. The tank and other tanks in the tank farm were not equipped with remotely operated emergency isolation valves designed to mitigate process releases remotely from a safe location. Elements of the tank farm design, including tank spacing, subdivisions, engineering controls for pumps located inside the containment area, and drainage systems allowed the fire to spread to other tanks within the tank farm. Also, ITC did not apply a formal process safety management (PSM) program to the tank because neither the OSHA PSM standard nor the EPA Risk Management Program (RMP) rule applied to the tank and its associated equipment due to exemptions contained in the regulations.

The CSB has issued recommendations to ITC , OSHA, EPA, and the American Petroleum Institute (API) to take action to address gaps linked to the identified safety issues. The CSB recommended that OSHA eliminate the atmospheric storage tank exemption from the PSM standard and that EPA expand coverage of the RMP rule to include all flammable liquids, including mixtures, with a flammability rating of NFPA-3 or higher. The CSB also recommended that API update API STD 2610, Design, Construction, Operation, Maintenance, and Inspection of Terminal and Tank Facilities, or other appropriate products to include flammable gas detection systems.

You can read the full report on CSB's website.

CSB Releases Final Report on 2020 Propylene Explosion at Watson Grinding Facility

Publish Date: 2023-07-05
Category: Industry News

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has released its final report on the January, 2020 propylene release and explosion at the Watson Grinding facility in Houston, Texas. The explosion fatally injured two workers and a nearby resident, and damaged hundreds of neighboring homes. The event resulted from a hose that became disconnected due to degradation and poor crimping enabled by an open manual shutoff valve and an inoperative safety system. Flammable propylene was released and accumulated in a building. It ignited causing an explosion when an employee entered the building and turned on the lights.

The CSB report highlights the lack of a comprehensive process safety management program at the Watson Grinding facility to manage the risks of its thermal spray coating operations and an ineffective emergency response plan. The CSB is issuing recommendations to encourage companies and standards-setting bodies to share information from the CSB's report, as well as existing industry guidelines that emphasize the need for an effective process safety management system.

You can read the full report on CSB's website.

CSB Report Reveals Critical Safety Issues in Wacker Polysilicon Incident

Publish Date: 2023-06-22
Category: Industry News

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has released its final report on the November 2020 hydrogen chloride release at the Wacker Polysilicon North American facility in Charleston, Tennessee. The release resulted in one fatality and two workers sustained serious injuries. It was caused when a worker applied excessive torque to flange bolts on a heat exchanger outlet pipe containing HCl, causing the pipe to crack and release HCl.

The CSB identified several key safety lessons: the need for written procedures, control of hazardous energy through equipment isolation, risk analysis and precautions to mitigate risk, performance of SIMOPs, and suitable means of emergency egress from work areas.

The CSB recommended that U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require the coordination of simultaneous operations involving multiple work groups, including contractors. Additionally, the CSB is calling on OSHA and the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) to create safety products that offer guidance on simultaneous operations. The CSB is urging Wacker to improve its company policies and procedures, specifically addressing torquing, control of hazardous energy, and simultaneous operations. The CSB is also recommending that Wacker install an additional means of egress for tower platforms, and they recommend that the International Code Council (ICC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) address requirements for multiple means of egress from elevated structures.

You can read the full report on CSB's website.

CSB Issues Final Report on 2021 Fatal Acid Release at LyondellBasell La Porte, TX Facility

Publish Date: 2023-05-31
Category: Industry News

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has released its final report on the acetic acid release that occurred at the LyondellBasell facility in La Porte, Texas on July 27, 2021. The CSB found that the removal of pressure retaining components of a valve caused the release of 164,000 pounds of an extremely hot acetic acid mixture, resulting in the deaths of two contract workers and serious injuries to two other people. Also, 29 employees working in an adjacent unit were transported to medical facilities for further evaluation and treatment. The incident caused an estimated $40 million in loss of use and property damage.

The report describes how contractors, who intended to remove a valve actuator from a plug valve, removed bolts from the valve not being aware that they were securing a pressure-retaining valve cover. The plug was ejected from the valve resulting in the catastrophic release. The CSB noted that there have been similar incidents around the country involving plug valves being inadvertently taken apart when removing connected equipment.

The CSB made recommendations to LyondellBasell, its contractor, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Valve Manufacturers Association of America to address gaps in equipment design and labeling, procedures, communication of past incidents, and worker training.

Final Report Released by CSB on the toxic gas release and chemical fire at the Bio-Lab facility in Westlake, LA

Publish Date: 2023-04-25
Category: Industry News

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has released its final report on the chemical fire and toxic gas release at Bio-Lab in Westlake, Louisiana, which occurred during Hurricane Laura in August 2020. The Bio-Lab facility experienced significant wind damage that led to rainwater from the storm making contact with over 1 million pounds of trichloroisocyanuric acid (TCCA), causing a chemical reaction, fire, and the release of a large plume of hazardous gases, including toxic chlorine. The incident resulted in the closure of a portion of nearby Interstate 10 and a shelter-in-place order for the surrounding community.

The report suggests measures for the company and Louisiana officials to take to prevent similar incidents in the future during hurricanes. Furthermore, the CSB is also reiterating two recommendations related to reactive chemicals that it previously has made to OSHA and EPA. The CSB is calling on OSHA to amend its PSM regulation to achieve more comprehensive control of reactive hazards, such as TCCA, that could have catastrophic consequences, and is calling on EPA to revise its Accidental Release Prevention Requirements to cover additional reactive hazards that have the potential to seriously impact the public.