IOSH says the most powerful Buncefield explosion is thought to be the largest ever in peacetime Europe. This photo is posted on the site of MP Mike Penning.

Gasoline Terminals May Yet Fall Under CFATS

The Department of Homeland Security has not agreed to exempt them, and it published a new request for comments today about the models it is using for vapor cloud explosions and pool fires. The industry asked to be exempted.

Gasoline terminals in the United States may yet be covered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, known as CFATS, judging by a request for comments DHS published today. About 4,000 gasoline terminals and other facilities with aboveground gasoline storage tanks, such as petroleum refineries, already have submitted Top Screens under CFATS, and DHS has initially identified 405 of those facilities as high-risk.

The request specifically mentions the Buncefield terminal explosion near London, England, and says although the industry believes the combination of circumstances that produced that explosion and fire are unlikely to occur elsewhere, DHS believes terrorists might seek out terminals where such an incident could be ignited.

The request follows a May 13, 2009, petition by the International Liquid Terminals Association asking for gasoline to be exempted from CFATS.

The agency wants comments on including gasoline terminals in the flammable mixtures rule [6 CFR 27.204(a)(2)] and also whether reducing the vapor yield for gasoline from 10 percent (as in EPA's vapor cloud explosions model) to 1 percent "reasonably reflects the potential consequences for a vapor cloud explosion from gasoline (as compared to other liquid flammable chemicals); and whether a different yield factor adjustment might better reflect the potential consequences for a vapor cloud explosion from gasoline."

DHS also said the comments, due by March 15 (Docket No. DHS 2009-0141, www.regulations.gov), should address whether a reasonable model exists or should be developed that would allow DHS to estimate the plausible worst-case consequences of an uncontained pool fire resulting from a successful attack on gasoline terminals.

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