NORCO Fractionation Plant - Executive Summary
Norco Fractionation Plant Risk Management Plan: Executive Summary |
ACCIDENTAL RELEASE PREVENTION AND RESPONSE POLICIES
The Norco Fractionation Plant has a long-standing commitment to worker and public safety. This commitment is demonstrated by the resources invested in accident prevention, such as training personnel and considering safety in the design, installation, operation, and maintenance of facility's processes. The Shell Western E&P Inc. (SWEPI) policy is to implement reasonable controls to prevent foreseeable releases of substances. However, if a release does occur, trained personnel will respond to, control, and contain the release.
DESCRIPTION OF THE STATIONARY SOURCE AND REGULATED
SWEPI operates the Norco Fractionation Plant located in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. The Norco Fractionation Plant receives raw make liquids from the Norco Refinery and by tank trucks. The raw make is fractionated at the Norco Fractionation Plant and the fractionated products ar
e shipped out via pipeline.
The Norco Fractionation Plant was evaluated to determine if any regulated flammable or toxic substances exceeded the threshold quantity. Based on process knowledge, SWEPI identified the regulated substances and quantities kept on site. The chemicals, largest quantities on site, and associated threshold quantities are presented in Table 1.
Listed flammable substances which are stored above threshold quantities at the Norco Fractionation Plant are natural gasoline, normal butane, isobutane, raw make, propane, rerun propane and heating oil. However, SWEPI has determined that natural gasoline and heating oil have an NFPA rating of 3 and 2 respectively, which exempts these mixtures from threshold determination (see Section 2.1). Based on worst-case analysis (presented in Section 2.3 of this report), the distance to the endpoint exceeds the distance to public receptors. In addition, the Norco Fractionation Plant is subject to OSHA PSM. Therefore, the Norc
o Fractionation Plant is classified as Program 3 process under the ARP program.
OFF-SITE CONSEQUENCE ANALYSIS RESULTS
Flammable Substances - Worst-Case Scenario
The endpoint for worst-case release of flammable substances is 1 psi overpressure (i.e., 15.7 psia), resulting from a vapor cloud explosion. The ARP Program requirement for flammables assumes an instantaneous release and vapor cloud explosion. A yield factor of 10 percent of the available energy released in the explosion shall be used to determine the distance to the explosion endpoint. Since the worst-case release scenario for a flammable substance is based on the assumption that the entire quantity of the substance forms a vapor cloud, passive mitigation systems are not applicable. Isobutane is the worst-case flammable release with a 0.73 mile distance to the endpoint.
Flammable Substances - Alternative-Case Scenario
A single alternative release scenario for all flammable substances is required under the ARP program.
A hypothetical, but likely to occur, release scenario has been identified for propane as follows. An overfill of the propane storage bullet (880F) causes a release from four-inch piping of the pressure relief valve set at 250 psig. The release is assumed to continue for ten minutes and may ignite in a vapor cloud explosion with an endpoint of 1 psi overpressure or a vapor cloud fire with an endpoint of the lower flammability limit (LFL) for propane. The alternative-case release of propane resulted in a 0.28-mile distance to the 1 psi overpressure endpoint and 0.09 mile distance to the LFL endpoint.
The Norco Fractionation Plant does not have any toxic substances held above the threshold quantity. Therefore, analysis of worst-case or alternative-case release scenarios for toxic substances is not required.
GENERAL ACCIDENT RELEASE PROGRAM
The following is a summary of the of the accident prevention program in place at the Norco Fractionation Plant. Because the
processes at the plant that are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) risk management program (RMP) regulation are also subject to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) process safety management (PSM) standard, this summary addresses each of the OSHA PSM elements and describes the management system in place to implement the accident prevention program.
Active employee participation and involvement in the development and implementation of the Norco Fractionation Plant's PSM program is an important step toward achieving the objective to prevent or minimize the consequences of catastrophic releases of toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive chemicals. Employee involvement will help to ensure that all perspectives regarding PSM are considered, and that the best ideas are implemented. Open communications are encouraged between supervisors and employees regarding all safety and health issues.
The Norco Fractionation P
lant strongly promotes employee involvement in safety issues through existing programs. These programs include a Health Safety & Environmental Team (which are made up of a cross section of employees and supervision), regularly scheduled safety meetings, tail-gate safety meetings, Hazard Communication, Safety Suggestion Forms, "near-miss" reporting, Behavioral Based Safety Programs and special training programs (emergency response training, first aid, etc.).
The Norco Fractionation Plant actively seeks employee involvement in the development and conduct of all accident prevention activities through the appropriate existing safety programs. Accident prevention is discussed at the regularly scheduled safety meetings and/or during special training sessions if necessary. Employees are encouraged to discuss accident prevention with their supervisors if they have questions, comments, or suggestions.
Process Safety Information (PSI)
Complete and accurate written process safety informat
ion concerning process chemicals, process technology, and process equipment is essential to an effective PSM and RMP programs and to completing and maintaining a process hazard analysis (PHA). The PSI will be useful to the operators; the team performing the PHA; those in charge of training; contractors; those conducting pre-startup safety reviews; and those in charge of updating the emergency preparedness plans. Process safety information is readily available to all employees.
The Norco Fractionation Plant keeps a variety of technical documents that are used to help maintain safe operation of the processes. These documents address chemical properties and associated hazards, limits for key process parameters and specific chemical inventories, and equipment design basis/configuration information.
Chemical-specific information, including exposure hazards and emergency response/exposure treatment considerations, is provided in material safety data sheets (MSDS).
The gas plant also
maintains numerous technical documents that provide information about the design and construction of process equipment. This information includes materials of construction, design pressure and temperature ratings, and electrical rating of equipment. This information, in combination with written procedures and trained personnel, provides a basis for establishing inspection and maintenance activities, as well as for evaluating proposed process and facility changes to ensure that safety features in the process are not compromised.
Process Hazard Analysis (PHA)
The Norco Fractionation Plant has a comprehensive program to help ensure that hazards associated with the various processes are identified and controlled. Within this program, each process is systematically examined to identify hazards and ensure that adequate controls are in place to manage these hazards.
The Norco Fractionation Plant primarily uses the hazard and operability (HAZOP) and What-if/Checklist method analysis techn
ique to perform these evaluations. The analyses are conducted using a team of people who have operating and maintenance experience as well as engineering expertise. This team identifies and evaluates hazards of the process as well as accident prevention and mitigation measures, and the team makes suggestions for additional prevention and/or mitigation measures when the team believes such measures are necessary.
The PHA team findings are forwarded to local and corporate management for resolution. Implementation of mitigation options in response to PHA findings is based on a relative risk ranking assigned by the PHA team. This ranking helps ensure that potential accident scenarios assigned the highest risk receive immediate attention. All approved mitigation options in response to PHA team findings are tracked until they are completed. The final resolution of each finding is documented and retained.
To help ensure that the process controls and/or process hazards do not eventually
deviate significantly from the original design safety features, the plant periodically updates and revalidates the hazard analysis results. These periodic reviews are conducted at least every 5 years and will be conducted at this frequency until the process is no longer operating. The results and findings from these updates are documented and retained. Once again, the team findings are forwarded to management for consideration, and the final resolution of the findings is documented and retained.
The Norco Fractionation Plant maintains written procedures that address various modes of process operations, such as; (1) startup, (2) normal operations, (3) temporary operations, (4) emergency shutdown, (5) normal shutdown, and (6) initial startup of a new process. These procedures provide guidance for experienced operators and also provide the basis for training new operators. Operating procedures are periodically reviewed and annually certified as current and accu
rate. The review and certification process involves both operators and technical staff.
The intent of the operating procedures is to provide workable, useful, and clearly written instructions for conducting operating activities. To have effective operating procedures, the task and procedures directly and indirectly related to the covered process must be appropriate, clear, consistent, and most importantly, communicated to employees. Operating procedures are specific instructions or details on what steps are taken or followed in carrying out the stated procedures. The specific instructions include the applicable safety precautions and appropriate information on safety implications.
In addition to training on operating procedures the Norco Fractionation Plant has a comprehensive training program for all employees involved in operating the process. New employees receive basic training in gas plant operations. In addition, all operators periodically receive refresher trai
ning on the operating procedures to ensure that their skills and knowledge are maintained at acceptable level. This refresher training is conducted at least every 3 years. All of this training is documented for each operator including the means used to verify that the operator understood the training.
The Norco Fractionation Plant uses contractors during periods of increased maintenance or construction activities. Because some contractors work on or near process equipment, the gas plant has procedures in place to ensure that contractors (1) perform their work in a safe manner, (2) have appropriate knowledge and skills. (3) are aware of the hazards of their workplace, (4) understand what they should do in the event of an emergency, (5) understand and follow site specific safety rules, and (6) inform gas plant personnel of any hazards that they find during there work. This is accomplished by providing contractors with an orientation session that covers (1) a process ove
rview (2) information about safety and health hazards, (3) emergency response plan requirements, and (4) safe work practices prior to beginning their work. In addition the Norco Fractionation Plant evaluates contractor safety programs and performance during the selection of a contractor. Gas plant personnel periodically monitor contract performance to ensure that contractors are fulfilling their safety obligations.
Pre-startup Safety Review (PSSR)
The Norco Fractionation Plant conducts a PSSR on any new facility or facility modification that requires a change in process safety information. The purpose of the PSSR is to ensure that safety features, procedures, personnel, and equipment are appropriately prepared for startup prior to placing the equipment into service. This review provides one additional check to make sure construction is in accordance with design specification and that all supporting systems are operationally ready. The PSSR involves field verification of the co
nstruction and serves a quality assurance function by requiring verification that accident prevention program requirements are properly implemented.
The Norco Fractionation Plant has well established practices and procedures for maintaining process equipment. The basic aspects of this program include (1) training, (2) developing written procedures, (3) performing inspections and tests, (4) correcting equipment deficiencies, when identified, and (5) applying quality assurance measures. In combination, these activities form a system that maintains the mechanical integrity of the process.
Maintenance personnel receive training on (1) an overview of the process, (2) safety and health hazards, (3) applicable maintenance procedures, (4) emergency response plans, (5) specialized training for some specific equipment, and (6) applicable safe work practices to help ensure that they can perform their jobs in a safe manner.
Another integral part of mechanical integrity p
rogram is quality assurance. The Norco Fractionation Plant incorporates quality assurance measures into equipment purchases and repairs. This helps ensure that new equipment is suitable for its intended use and that proper materials and spare parts are used when repairs are made.
Safe Work Practices
The Norco Fractionation Plant has long standing safe work practices in place to help ensure worker and process safety. Examples of these include (1) control of the entry/presence/exit of support personnel, (2) a lockout/tagout procedure to ensure isolation of energy sources for equipment undergoing maintenance, (3) a procedure for safe removal of hazardous substances before process piping and equipment is opened, (4) a permit and procedure to control spark-producing activities (i.e., hot work), and (5) a permit and procedure to ensure that adequate precautions are in place before entry into a confined space. These procedures (and others), along with training of affected personnel, fo
rm a system to help ensure that operations and maintenance activities are performed safely.
Management of Change
The Norco Fractionation Plant has a comprehensive system to manage changes to all covered processes. This system requires that changes to items such as process equipment, technology (including process operating conditions), procedures, and other facility changes be properly reviewed and authorized before being implemented. Changes are reviewed to (1) ensure that adequate controls are in place to manage any new hazards and (2) verify that existing controls have not been compromised by the change. Affected chemical hazard information, process operating limits, and equipment information, as well as procedures, are updated to incorporate these changes. In addition operating and maintenance personnel are provided any necessary training on the change.
The Norco Fractionation Plant promptly investigates all incidents that resulted in or reasonably coul
d have resulted in, a fire/explosion, toxic gas release, major property damage, environmental loss, or personal injury. The goal of each investigation is to gather the facts, determine the root cause, and develop corrective action to prevent the reoccurrence of the incident or a similar incident. The investigation team documents its findings, develops a recommendation to prevent a recurrence, and forwards these results to the business management team for resolution.
To help ensure that the accident prevention program is functioning properly, the Norco Fractionation Plant periodically conducts an audit to determine whether the procedures and practices required by the accident prevention program are being implemented. Compliance audits are conducted at least every 3 years. Both hourly and staff personnel participate as audit team members. The audit team develops findings that are forwarded to plant management for resolution. Corrective actions taken in response
to the audit team's findings are tracked until they are complete. The final resolution of each finding is documented, and the two most recent audit reports are retained.
CHEMICAL SPECIFIC PREVENTION STEPS
The processes at the Norco Fractionation Plant have hazards that must be managed to ensure continued safe operation. The following is a description of existing safety features applicable to prevention of accidental releases of regulated substances in the facility.
Universal Prevention Activities
The accident prevention program summarized previously is applied to all RMP-covered processes at the Norco Fractionation Plant. Collectively, these prevention program activities help prevent potential accident scenarios that could be caused by equipment failures and human errors.
Specialized Safety Features
The Norco Fractionation Plant has safety features on many units to help (1) contain/control a release, (2) quickly detect a release, and (3) reduce the consequences of (mitigate) a
release. The following types of safety features are used in the covered processes:
1. Hydrocarbon detectors with alarms
1. Process relief valves that discharge to a flare to capture and incinerate episodic releases
2. Valves to permit isolation of the process (manual or automated)
3. Automated shutdown systems for specific process parameters (e.g., high temperature)
4. Curbing or diking to contain liquid releases
5. Redundant equipment and instrumentation (e.g., uninterruptible power supply for process control system, backup firewater pump)
6. Atmospheric relief devices
1. Fire suppression and extinguishing systems
2. Deluge system for specific equipment
3. Trained in emergency procedures
4. Personal protective equipment (e.g., chemical protective clothing, face shields)
Five Year Accident History
The Norco Fractionation Plant has an excellent record of accident prevention. Over the past 5 years there have bee
n no accidental releases.
Emergency Response Program Information
The Norco Fractionation Plant maintains a written emergency response program, which is in place to protect worker and public safety as well as the environment. The program consists of procedures for responding to a release of a regulated substance, including the possibility of a fire or explosion if a flammable substance is accidentally released. The procedures address all aspects of emergency response, including proper first aid and medical treatment for exposures, evacuation plans and accounting for personnel after an evacuation, notification of local emergency response agencies and the public if a release occurs, and post-incident cleanup and decontamination requirements. In addition, the plant has procedures that address maintenance, inspection, and testing of emergency response equipment, as well as instructions that address the use of emergency response equipment. Employees receive training in these procedures
as necessary to perform their specific emergency response duties. The emergency response program is updated when necessary based on modifications made to Norco Fractionation Plant facilities. The emergency response program changes are administered through the MOC process, which includes informing and/or training affected personnel in the changes.
The overall emergency response program for the Norco Fractionation Plant is coordinated with the St. Charles, Louisiana, Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). This coordination includes periodic meetings of the committee, which includes local emergency response officials, local government officials, and industry representatives. The Norco Fractionation Plant has around-the-clock communications capability with appropriate LEPC officials and emergency response organizations (e.g., fire department). This provides a means of notifying the public of an incident, if necessary, as well as facilitating quick response to an incident. In additi
on to periodic LEPC meetings, the Norco Fractionation Plant conducts periodic emergency drills that involve the LEPC and emergency response organizations, and the gas plant provides annual refresher training to local emergency responders regarding the hazards of regulated substances in the plant.