Hawkins Chemical, Inc. - Terminal I - Executive Summary
RMP Executive Summary - Hawkins Chemical, Inc. |
Since Hawkins Chemical was founded in 1938, the company has become a critical source of chemical products for communities and businesses across the upper Midwest. For example, nearly all municipal and industrial water treatment facilities in the region rely on Hawkins for water disinfectants and other treatment products, equipment and expertise.
Hawkins Chemical is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with branches that meet local needs in six neighboring states. The company's primary business is to repackage, custom-blend and distribute products for the water disinfection, pharmaceutical, food, computer and other industries.
Hawkins has prepared and filed a Risk Management Plan for its St. Paul facility, also known as Terminal One, where its primary activity is to receive products such as chlorine from manufacturers and to repackage those products into portions appropriate for individual customer facilities. Because of it
s historical reputation for responsiveness, customers also turn to staff at this facility for customized services such as manufacturing household bleach and blending safer agricultural fertilizers or conditioners that protect the nutritional value of hay for cattle.
The Risk Management Plan that Hawkins staff have filed for this facility is a planning and prevention tool; it helps us to better identify hazards and communicate with others. Risk Management Plans are developed by facilities that have sufficient quantities of any of 140 hazardous materials on site; at this facility, we handle five of those materials. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that 66,000 such facilities will have to file Risk Management Plans in 1999.
The products covered in our Risk Management Plan for this facility are:
* Chlorine: Chlorine and bleach (sodium hypochlorite) are well-known and trusted disinfectants for drinking water, waste water, food pr
ocessing equipment, swimming pools, etc.
* Sulfur dioxide: Used to make paper and by water treatment facilities to purify water.
* Formaldehyde: Used to produce a polymer which takes the water out of water-treatment sludge. Will be discontinued as a Hawkins product in 1999.
* Dimethylamine: Also used to produce a polymer which takes the water out of water-treatment sludge. As with formaldehyde, this product will be discontinued in 1999.
Although not one of the 140 products for which EPA requires a Risk Management Plan, we also handle quantities of caustic soda at this facility. Caustic soda is a salt solution which is used primarily as a cleaning agent by dairies, energy producers, waste-water treatment facilities, and by the beet processing industry.
In addition to identifying and reporting materials of interest, RMP also requires companies to prepare two accident scenarios as a way to plan for--and thus to prevent--hazardous accidents.
The first o
f the two types of planning scenarios required under RMP is called a "worst-case scenario." Facilities develop and share this scenario with emergency responders as a planning tool, not a prediction. The worst-case scenario, as its name indicates, assumes a complete and simultaneous failure in every one of several layers of mechanical and safety controls, that the worst possible weather conditions exist, and that the entire contents of our largest container would release suddenly.
Our worst-case scenario involves a rail car of chlorine, a product which our customers use to make water safe. Assuming the worst-case scenario, the entire contents of the rail car would release at our site over a ten-minute period and would travel 14 miles by air before dispersing to a level that is not harmful. This estimate is based on EPA's guidance for water treatment facilities, which handle chlorine similarly to Hawkins.
Again, the worst case scenario is a planning tool, not a prediction. In fact
, such a catastrophic release of chlorine has never occurred anywhere. Many mechanical and procedural safeguards are in place to make sure even small releases don't happen. For example,
* The rail car is equipped with pressure relief valves which will prevent catastrophic failure from over-pressurization,
* The rail car unloading system is equipped with automatic shutdown devices activated by sensors designed to detect chlorine in the air.
The second of the planning scenarios are known as "alternative release scenarios," which are somewhat more realistic possibilities than the worst-case scenario. Hawkins' first alternative scenario also involves chlorine. In this planning scenario, a 150-pound container might have a faulty pressure relief device (fuse plug) which leaks some chlorine. For this scenario, EPA estimates the chlorine gas would travel a distance of 0.12 miles by air over 60 minutes before it dissipates to a level that is not harmful.
Hawkins also has prepared alte
rnative release scenarios for other products on site. These include: a tank truck of ammonia might leak, traveling 0.10 mile over 60 minutes; a larger container of chlorine (a ton container) might leak, traveling 1.2 miles over 60 minutes; a container of sulfur dioxide might leak, traveling 0.10 mile over 60 minutes; or a tank of formaldehyde solution might leak, traveling 0.10 mile.
EPA requires separate planning scenarios for products that are flammable hazards. Hawkins has filed worst-case and alternative-case scenarios for dimethylamine, which is used to make a product that takes the water out of water-treatment sludge. The worst-case scenario for this product is that it would travel .30 miles before it was no longer dangerous; the alternative, or more reasonable, scenario is that it would travel .05 miles.
Hawkins provides products critical to meeting the region's public health and manufacturing needs. Some of these products pose risks, which is why all H
awkins employees share a commitment to safety. Our safety policy states: "Hawkins Chemical, Inc. recognizes its obligation to provide all employees with a safe and healthful workplace. The Company has provided, and will continue to provide, the human, physical and financial resources necessary to meet this objective. We expect all employees of the Company to use these resources to make our operations as safe and healthful as is humanly possible."
Planning for accidents, such as that done through RMP, helps to ensure that they never happen. In fact, our RMP for Terminal One reports no accidental releases over the reportable period of five years that affected our neighbors. We did, however, have two situations with employees exposed to chlorine; several procedural and training changes have been made to make sure that this does not happen again. Hawkins has over 40 years of experience in handling chlorine and is a leader in national efforts to ensure safe handling of chemicals.
eality is, however, that accidents can happen. That's why we continually update mechanical safeguards and invest heavily in training for our employees and our customers. During the past few years we have made more than $1 million in safety investments at this facility, upgrading the physical infrastructure by adding cement dikes and improving above-ground storage tanks. These investments go well beyond Minnesota's particularly stringent regulations for storage facilities. In fact, Hawkins was the first to comply with the state's progressive regulations.
Future upgrades will include re-grading the entire facility so that even a drop of oil from a car in the parking lot would be contained and treated in our collection and neutralization system. An additional, state-of-the art facility is being built in another part of the Twin Cities; chlorine packaging and bleach manufacturing will be moved from Terminal One to the new facility by the end of 2000.
In addition to our internal effo
rts, safety and emergency response planning also is coordinated with local and national officials, including the St. Paul Fire Department, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and U.S. Coast Guard. Hawkins also must regularly meet requirements in industrial wastewater, national pollutant discharge (NPDS) and other permits.