May 2013

Special Report: Maintenance/Reliability

Seal safety may require going beyond typical standards

Top industry professionals believe users must reach beyond typical standards in applying safer mechanical seals when hazardous and toxic chemicals are involved.

Shaw, S., AESSEAL plc

In 1984, a single, large-scale emission of methyl isocyanate (MIC) led to the loss of thousands of lives at Bhopal, India. The event became one of the most consequential process safety failures for the manufacturing industry. Follow-up releases and articles have documented how machinery failures played a role in the Bhopal disaster.1 Incremental changes made to the original process design involving pumps and seals ultimately contributed to this catastrophic event. A comprehensive examination of current seal standards indicates that possible inconsistencies and weaknesses are present in these guides. Such deficiencies were confirmed in leakage testing conducted by a leading seal manufacturer

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