EPA helps minimize process shutdown related releases during hurricane season

Are you prepared for hurricane season? The EPA warns that before hurricane winds and flooding can damage industrial processes and cause uncontrolled releases of hazardous chemicals, workers need to take preventive action by safely shutting down processes.

According to a recent EPA release, “for complex industrial processes, shutdown operations require special care beyond normal operations. Process shutdown often involves numerous simultaneous activities and rapidly changing process conditions. Normally automated systems or process controls may be bypassed, disconnected, or under manual control. Of particular concern are the hazards associated with the additional human/process interactions required during shutdown operations, as process parameters may be in unusual ranges and operators may have less experience controlling plant conditions during a shutdown.

EPA reminds owners/operators that various laws and regulations require that they minimize chemical releases during process shutdown operations; and if reportable releases occur, they must be reported immediately upon constructive knowledge of occurrence.”

The EPA release goes on to highlight release minimization requirements, reporting requirements, federally permitted releases to air and more.

The EPA also suggests that “emergency contact information should be updated and reported to Local Emergency Planning Committees for local response purposes. As well, to enhance federal response effectiveness, stationary sources subject to the CAA Section 112 (r)(7) Risk Management Program should continuously update and report current emergency contact information in section 1.8 of their Risk Management Plans [40 C.F.R. Section 68.160(a)(6)]. Also, owners/operators should consider the operability issues for land based or cell phone services during hazardous weather events. If the probability of operational failure is high, emergency contact numbers should be satellite service based.

Facilities that experience process shutdown-related or hazardous weather-induced releases, spills or discharges into the environment should contact the National Response Center, and appropriate State Emergency Response Commissions and Local Emergency Planning Committees, immediately upon having constructive knowledge that such releases, spills or discharges exceed applicable reportable quantities.”

Read the complete release, As Hurricane Season Begins: A Reminder to Minimize Process Shutdown Related Releases and to Report Releases In a Timely Manner