Major Incident Planning and Support (MIP+S) Level 3

100 videos, 6 hours and 37 minutes

Course Content

Processing area

Video 97 of 100
4 min 37 sec
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Yeah, so in the processing area, we are manufacturing hydrocarbons, so we are taking feed stocks and we are processing through distillation columns, mainly atmospheric distillation, there is a little bit of pressure as well, and some vacuum distillation. So once again, the issues here are, we are actually heating the material up at this point, so some of these materials are quite volatile, even at ambient temperatures, and obviously what we are trying to create within the columns, we are trying to turn the liquid into a vapor. When you do that, obviously, if the vapor leaks, it is far more likely to catch fire than it would be if it was purely a liquid leak, if you had a leak, it could be a vapor, the material could actually be below it's natural flashpoint, and therefore you could create a flammable vapour cloud, which again, is more likely to find a source of ignition because it's already in a very volatile phase, it's already in the vapor phase. In terms of processing rates, it wouldn't take too long to have quite a big leak.

We are processing some of these materials, we are processing at, 35-40 cubes an hour. So even in a short time period, 10-15 minutes if you had a leak, you would create quite a considerable volume of vapor. In what could be quite an area with some quite intensive operations underway. So, there's definitely an opportunity for the vapor to find an ignition source, vapor cloud explosions, pool fires are going, flash fires. Those sorts of things are the hazards that we are looking at in this area. Most of the time these areas, there isn't a huge amount of human interaction, so people come and go into those areas, but it's quite rare for people to be in those areas for any prolonged amount of time because the operation is run from a central control room.

So unless there's particular manual operations in those areas there shouldn't really be a need for anybody to be there. The areas are, in terms of a vapor cloud explosion, they are quite congested, and when the vapor is congested within an area it makes the chance of an explosion, obviously, more likely from the sense that you have probably got more ignition, potential ignition sources. But also, if you do have an explosion in such a confined area, then the blast can be greater and can create more damage. Most of the fixed monitors for the fire pumps to use for water cooling now, in and around that area, so you don't need to do so much hosing with fire water, as you might do in some of the areas, so there's a fire main system that goes around the site, and a lot of the fixed monitors are deliberately in this particular area, so that you don't have to get too close to the process plant. You can just press a button and you can automatically spray the area with re-cooling water.

So in terms of the access to the area, the initial liaison point, if you like, when the emergency services arrives, we will be directing operations from our control room. Our emergency control room, is also, duplicates as our standard control room, when the emergency services turn up there, we will give them all the information about what's happening, where is it happening, what the hazards are, what the wind direction is, and what they need to think about. We should also be at that time, if there was an incident on any of the units, we would also be shutting down surrounding plant, making the other plant as safe as possible, and if needs be, we have actually got the opportunity to press a button and that will stop, immediately stop, that particular processing plant. So and you got like a button that you can press, a stop button, if you like, that will render the other parts of the plant as safe as possible. So in terms of how the fire service would fight that particular scenario, it would, again, mainly be cooling water, and again, if there's no people involved, then our approach would very much be to sit back and maybe stand back even further, maybe even evacuate the site to an extent where there was only the emergency services left on site, maybe a few hours into the incident and there's a potential for our control burn, if there is a limited number of people who are potentially at risk.