AFPM Q&A '12: Industry should better educate on turnaround hazards

SALT LAKE CITY -- The downstream industry has a responsibility to better educate workers on the dangers associated with hazards during maintenance turnaround work, according to Cody Nath of Refined Technologies.

“I feel the industry has done a good job, in general, of educating contractors, operators and personnel on the dangers of hydrogen sulfide (H2S), but not as much on other hazards during process venting,” said Nath.

Nath spoke in a Monday afternoon technical session at the AFPM Q&A and Technology Forum on hydroprocessing principles and practices.

In particular, hydrogen (H2) can be extremely dangerous because it is extremely flammable, Mr. Nash said. Likewise, nitrogen (N2) is a hazard because it is an asphyxiant without odor or color.

Common plant sources for these hazards are bleeder drains as well as manways or vents with inert purges.

On the other hand, there are several methods to mitigate the potential danger, he explained. Those include the use of closed venting systems as well as barricading, tagging and communicating risk areas.

Operators also benefit from continuous oxygen (O2) monitoring, including in the vicinity of inert confined spaces, Mr. Nash said.

Finally, it is important to “only use what you need”, he said. Often times, operators bring hazards into play that may not even be necessary for the specific turnaround process.

“A lot of us at this event have the ability to influence those that may not know,” said Mr. Nash. “We need to lead the way.”

Nash made his comments as part of a panel discussion on time savings for successful hydrocracker and ultra-low-sulfur-diesel hydrotreater turnarounds.

“Hydrotreating is becoming very important as refineries become more integrated, said fellow panelist Pui-Nang Lin, process advisor for the Flint Hills Resources refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas.

“There’s not a lot of room for storage and blending. Everyone wants to know, ‘How long do these turnarounds have to be?’

“They can be shorter with proper safety preparation.”

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