CSB Chairman Safety Video Emphasizes Winterization Programs

In a new video safety message recently released on YouTube, U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board Chairman John Bresland urged companies to ensure they have effective winterization programs to prevent major chemical and refinery process accidents that could result in deaths or substantial property damage.

"Winter is here," Bresland said. "As temperatures continue to drop, it's important for process plants to be prepared for the unique safety challenges of subfreezing weather."

The safety message can be viewed on the CSB's safety message channel, www.youtube.com/safetymessages, and can be also read on safetymessages.blogspot.com. Viewers who can not access YouTube can download the video files for all safety messages and safety videos from a page within the CSB Video Room.

Bresland cited two serious accidents investigated by CSB where water froze inside piping or equipment, causing it to rupture and releasing flammable liquids that ignited.

At a refinery near Dumas, Texas, in February 2007, a water-containing pipe froze and cracked, releasing high-pressure liquid propane; the resulting fire burned three workers and caused more than $50 million in property damage. In January 2001, two workers burned to death at a large Indiana steel mill after they were sprayed with flammable gas condensate, which ignited. The accident occurred after ice had cracked and damaged a valve in the mill's coke oven gas distribution system.

"These two serious accidents illustrate the importance of establishing effective winterization programs at refineries, chemical plants, and other facilities that handle hazardous materials," Bresland said. "Companies should establish formal, written winterization programs, and they should apply appropriate management of change techniques when piping or equipment is taken out of service."

The accidents in 2001 and 2007 involved what are known as dead legs, or sections of piping that do not have any flow of liquid. The safety message noted that dead legs are particularly susceptible to freezing hazards and should be surveyed and then removed, isolated, or properly winterized.

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