Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gasoline Terminals under CFATS

On Tuesday, January 12th the Department of Homeland Security published a notice in the Federal Register requesting comments on “certain technical issues related to the applicability of CFATS to gasoline terminals”. These comments are being requested, in part, based upon a May 13, 2009 petition by the International Liquid Terminals Association (ILTA) requesting that DHS exempt gasoline from CFATS and remove all references to gasoline terminals from §27.203(b)(1)(v) and the CFATS flammable mixtures rule {§27.204(a)(2)}. The Problem The ITLA and other industry organizations have objected to the inclusion of facilities in CFATS coverage solely because of the presence of above ground storage tanks of gasoline or other fuels that contain release flammable chemicals of interest in the fuel mixture. They maintain that the physical characteristics of gasoline are such that a vapor cloud explosion (VCE) from a gasoline release is extremely rare and only occurs when there are multiple failures of safety procedures and devices. DHS has taken the position in their development of §27.203(b) and §27.204(a) that, while an accidental VCE is unusual, terrorists attacking a fuel terminal would be expected to structure their attack to take into account the necessary conditions to form an effective VCE. Instead of relying on a series of accidental conditions to cause a VCE, the terrorist would deliberately cause the necessary conditions. DHS has modified the Environmental Protection Agency model used to evaluate the potential consequences of a VCE for the purposes of determining if a facility is at high-risk of terrorist attack. Recognizing the added difficulties of initiating a VCE with gasoline, the DHS modified model reduces the amount of the released gasoline considered to take part in the VCE from the 10% that EPA uses for other flammable liquids to just 1%. The gasoline terminal industry has maintained that, if a consequence analysis of a terrorist attack on a fuel terminal is needed, that DHS ought to use the contained pool fire model for conducting that evaluation. Further, the industry claims that the use of that model would not result in fuel terminals being designated as high risk facilities; as such a fire would have minimal off-site consequences. DHS has countered that maintained that the contained pool fire scenario is inappropriate, because a terrorist attack would certainly seek to breach the secondary containment that that model relies upon to ‘contain’ the pooled gasoline fire. DHS does not yet have a viable model available for evaluating the uncontained pool fire scenario. The Questions In this notice DHS is requesting public comments on three issues relating to the inclusion of gasoline terminals in potential coverage under the CFATS regulations. Those issues are: Whether DHS should continue to include the rules for counting flammable release-COI {6 CFR 27.203(b)(1)(v)} in fuels stored in above ground storage tanks and the fuel provisions of the flammable mixtures rule {6 CFR 27.204(a)(2)} in the CFATS regulations; Whether the modified VCE model currently being used by DHS to evaluate gasoline terminals is the appropriate model for determining the risk of terrorist attack associated with those terminals that have no other COI present. Specifically, DHS wants to know if the 1% rule currently used in that model is the proper amount of fuel to include in the VCE calculations; and Whether a model currently exists or should be developed to evaluate the consequences of an uncontained pool fire at gasoline terminals. The public comments should be submitted to DHS via www.regulations.gov (docket # DHS-2009-0141) by March 15, 2010.

1 comment:

Fred Millar said...

Any discussion of gasoline terminals should take account of the extensive Buncefield UK disaster investigations.

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