Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CCPS Beacon Addresses Vapor Cloud Explosions

The January, 2011 edition of the Process Safety Beacon, published by the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS), addresses the issue of vapor cloud explosions. It briefly describes both the potential causes and actions that people in the chemical process industry can take to prevent such explosions.

In my opinion, the most important information comes in the final bullet point under ‘What can you do?’:

“If your plant contains flammable or combustible materials, you should have written emergency procedures for a leak [emphasis added]. Review and understand these procedures, participate in drills, and know what you must do to protect yourself and others in case of a leak. Know when and how to use appropriate personal protective equipment (for example, flame resistant clothing) and leak detection equipment such as portable flammable material detectors.”
This should be of particular interest to CFATS covered facilities that have release flammable COI. Such COI have the potential for forming the vapor clouds that could lead to these catastrophic explosions. That being the case, at CFATS covered facilities at least, the written emergency procedures should address both accidental releases and deliberate releases caused by terrorist attacks.

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