CSB Urges Chemical Facilities to Prepare for Extreme Weather
As the 2020 hurricane season got underway, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board published a new safety alert and video urging the chemical industry to prepare for potential safety hazards associated with extreme weather events. The agency’s alert stresses that facilities should follow established startup procedures and checklists and describes additional safety protocols. CSB also encourages companies to review updated guidance from the Center for Chemical Process Safety. A recent example of how severe weather can affect chemical facilities is the 2017 fire at the Arkema Chemical Plant in Crosby, Texas. The Arkema Crosby plant manufactures organic peroxides, which are reactive chemicals that are inherently unstable. On Aug. 29, 2017, flooding caused by heavy rain from Hurricane Harvey disabled the plant’s refrigeration system. As the temperature at the plant increased, the peroxides began to spontaneously combust, which prompted the weeklong evacuation of more than 200 people living within a 1.5-mile radius of the facility. Two more refrigerated trailers used to store organic peroxide products began to combust on Sept. 1 before emergency response officials ignited the remaining trailers on Sept. 3. View CSB’s safety alert (PDF) on the agency’s website.