Utilities Chemical

NFPA fuel gas standard earns CSB's praise

Washington – The Chemical Safety Board on Nov. 4 commended the National Fire Protection Association for exceeding CSB’s recommendation on fuel gas safety.

The recommendation stemmed from CSB’s investigation of the February 2010 fatal explosion at the Kleen Energy power plant in Middletown, CT. The incident occurred during a gas blow, a process during which natural gas is driven through piping at high pressure to clear debris. CSB determined the process was unsafe and called on NFPA to revise its National Fuel Gas Code (NFPA 54) to ban gas blows.

NFPA issued a provisional standard through an accelerated rulemaking process in 2011, and has now issued the 2014 version through the regular rulemaking process. The rule, NFPA 56, advises using air, steam, water or inert gas instead of natural gas to clean piping, and addresses another type of gas purging that was responsible for the 2009 explosion at a ConAgra Foods plant in Garner, NC.

Going beyond CSB’s initial recommendation earned NFPA a designation of “exceeds” – CSB’s highest level of approval. Only four of the agency’s 18 recommendations related to the Kleen incident remain uncompleted.