safety alert
Photo: Chemical Safety Board

CSB issues alert to oil and chemical facilities about safe restarting post-Hurricane Harvey

August 29, 2017

Washington – Responding to ongoing damage in the Gulf Coast region caused by Hurricane Harvey, the Chemical Safety Board has issued a safety alert warning oil and chemical facility workers to follow special precautions when restarting in the wake of the storm.

Released Aug. 27, the alert emphasizes the importance of following established safety protocol before restarting because of simultaneously occurring activities. Many of the facilities that shut down during the hurricane will be restarting at the same time.

Facility operators should use appropriate management-of-change processes before modifying startup procedures, equipment or staffing arrangements, and should ensure staff are adequately available and trained. Nonessential personnel, including workers in trailers, should be evacuated from the vicinity of units starting up, the alert states.

CSB recommends facility operators check the following process equipment for damage or evidence of floating displacement:

  • Large bulk storage tanks
  • Pressure vessels and small storage tanks
  • Insulation systems for piping, vessels and tanks
  • Sewers, drains and furnace systems
  • Electric motors and drives
  • Switchgear, conduit, electrical boxes, electronic and pneumatic instrumentation, emergency warning systems, and emergency equipment

“Restarting a refinery poses a significant safety risk,” CSB Chairperson Vanessa A. Sutherland said in an Aug. 27 press release. “When operators follow established startup procedures and checklists, it reduces the risk to a catastrophic accident that could cost lives and incur substantial product disruptions.”