Hercules - Hopewell Plant - Executive Summary
Hercules Incorporated is a member of the Chemical Manufacturers Association and is committed to the principles of Responsible Care.. The Corporate Policy on Safety, Health, and Environment states:
At Hercules, we manufacture chemical specialty products. We do so with full commitment to the chemical industry's Responsible Care. initiative. In keeping with this commitment, we are dedicated to providing a safe and healthful environment for our employees, customers, and communities. To do this, we are dedicated to and working toward continuous improvement in our operations to prevent pollution; to reduce risk; and to enhance safety, health, and environmental performance. By incorporating these beliefs and attitudes into the way we do things at Hercules, we take a key step forward in minimizing the environmental impact of our operations, satisfying customer needs, and creating shareholder value.
We will adhere to the following basic principles in managing our business worldwide:
We will comply with the letter and spirit of all applicable safety, health, and environmental laws, regulations, and corporate guidelines.
We will define strategic objectives, develop tactical plans, identify clear accountability, provide necessary resources, and measure our progress on safety, health, and environmental matters on an ongoing basis. Our planning will consider both business goals and significant safety, health, and environmental aspects of our products and operations.
We will evaluate the safety, health, and environmental impacts of new and existing products and operations and will work to reduce the adverse impacts.
We will provide for an open dialogue on safety, health, and environmental issues relating to our products and operations with our stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, government agencies, and communities.
We will work to continually reduce workplace injuries; incidents with the potential for causing property damage, mate
rial loss, or interruption of our business; waste; and releases to the environment.
We will emphasize product stewardship and advocate its importance to our suppliers, distributors, and customers.
Every Hercules employee, worldwide, has a role to play. All of us are responsible and accountable for adhering to the letter and spirit of this policy. All of us must incorporate safety, health, and environmental considerations into our daily business activities. It takes a total team effort to truly be a Responsible Care company.
The Hercules Hopewell plant is located on 390 acres in the City of Hopewell. The facility produces cellulose derivatives that are used as thickeners in soups, gravies, pancake syrups, and toothpaste. In the construction industry these derivatives are used as thickeners for latex paints, joint cements, and caulking. In the manufacture of these derivatives, RMP covered toxic chemicals; chlorine, ethylene oxide, and propylene oxide are used as
raw materials. The one flammable present on site as a raw material is ethyl chloride. Chlorine is used to produce an intermediate for the production of carboxymethyl cellulose and is purchased and used from 90 ton rail cars. Ethylene oxide is used in the manufacture of hydroxyethyl cellulose, purchased in rail cars, and is stored in a tank with a capacity of 306,000lbs. Propylene oxide is used in the manufacture of hydroxypropyl cellulose, purchased in rail cars, and is stored in a tank with a capacity of 191,000 lbs. Ethyl chloride is used in the manufacture of ethyl cellulose, is purchased in rail cars, and stored in a tank with a capacity of 225,000lbs. These products are manufactured by treating cellulose from trees or cotton with lye and reacting with various materials to make the different derivatives.
TOXIC WORST CASE SCENARIO: CHLORINE
The worst case toxic scenario for the plant involves the release of the contents of a car of chlorine. In this case 180,000lbs of chlorine w
ould be released as a gas in 10 minutes. The EPA program RMP Comp predicts that the chlorine would extend 14 miles before reaching the toxic endpoint.
ALTERNATIVE CASE for CHLORINE:
The alternative case for chlorine involves a leak of 1,870 lbs from a vapor line on top of a rail car. In this event sensors located near the rail car would detect the leak almost immediately and alarms would notify the operator. The operator would takes steps to close the automatic valves on the car and stop the leak. RMP Comp for this case estimates a distance of 1600 feet to the toxic endpoint. A release of this magnitude would not affect any residential area around the plant.
ALTERNATIVE CASE for ETHYLENE OXIDE:
The alternative case for ethylene oxide involves a leak of 4,000 lbs from a line failure under a scale tank. Half of the ethylene oxide would be contained and diverted to a basin and diluted with water. RMP Comp, for the release of half of the chemical, estimates a distance of 2,100 feet to th
e toxic endpoint. This release would not reach any residential areas but could reach industrial areas to the north of the site.
ALTERNATIVE CASE for PROPYLENE OXIDE:
The alternative release for propylene oxide involves the leak of 11,500 lbs from a line failure under a scale tank. In this case, RMP Comp estimates a distance of 1,100 feet to the toxic endpoint. This release would not reach any residential areas of the city but could reach industrial areas to the north of the site.
FLAMMABLE WORST CASE SCENARIO: ETHYL CHLORIDE
The worst case for ethyl chloride involves the release of 225,000 lbs from a storage tank with a subsequent vapor cloud explosion. The shock wave could break windows as far away as 2100 feet from the site. This explosion could affect a small residential area and industrial areas to the west and north of the site.
ALTERNATIVE CASE for ETHYL CHLORIDE:
The alternative case for an ethyl chloride explosion involves the release of 10,000 lbs from a scale tank with su
bsequent vapor cloud explosion. The affected area would reach only 250 feet and the explosion would not be felt off-site.
ACCIDENT PREVENTION PROGRAM:
All processes on the Hopewell Plant are covered by the OSHA Process Safety Management Standard. The plant has a comprehensive process safety management system in place. Operators are thoroughly trained about their jobs and have written operating procedures at their work stations. Operators perform observations of their equipment as frequently as hourly and at least every eight hours. Equipment is subject to the mechanical integrity program which requires inspection and testing of critical equipment sometimes as frequently as weekly and at least annually. Mechanics are also thoroughly trained on their job skills and equipment inspection procedures. Each process is subject to periodic review called process hazards analysis to continually improve the safety of the operation. Management of change requires that a team study safety considerat
ions and approve changes to equipment or procedures. Most processes are computer controlled and all are monitored continuously by operators to prevent hazardous conditions from developing. Processes also have fail safe devices that shut down equipment before hazardous releases occur. Many automatic leak detection devices are present which may shut the process down and/or notify operators to take shut down actions. Numerous audits and safety inspections are performed by plant and corporate personnel.
FIVE YEAR HISTORY:
In the past five years, the Hopewell Plant has not had an accidental release of chlorine, ethylene oxide, propylene oxide, or ethyl chloride that had any effect offsite or that reached any offsite location. No employee has been injured in this time period because of a release of any of these chemicals. This is a result of the prevention program described above and training that all employees receive on how to do their jobs safely.
EMERGENCY RESPONSE PROGRAM:
ll Plant has a written emergency response plan. This plan is coordinated with the City of Hopewell's emergency plan. The plan describes the actions employees will take in response to an emergency such as accidental chemical release, fire or explosion, or a medical emergency. All employees are trained to "first responder" level which means that they know what to do if they discover an emergency situation. A first responder will notify appropriate plant personnel of the emergency. This notification could be by telephone or more likely by two-way radio since most shift team members carry a radio. The plant siren would be activated to notify everyone on plant of the emergency. The Plant Emergency Response Team is trained to handle chemical releases, fires, or medical emergencies. This team is equipped with a fire truck, ambulance, and a hazardous materials trailer stocked with materials for stopping chemical releases. Also available are the Hopewell Fire and Police Departments along with m
utual aid agreements with neighboring industries if additional resources are needed. Note that plant personnel drill at least annually with local public safety personnel.
Communications with the City can be by radio, phone 911, or the Hopewell Emergency Notification System(HENS). HENS is connected to local industries, public safety personnel, nearby schools, and the community center and would provide instant notification of an emergency.
PLANNED CHANGES TO IMPROVE SAFETY:
Installation of automated sampling devices to reduce the possibility of release of flammable vapors and installation of continuous ventilation in the hydroxyethyl cellulose process building to prevent buildup of flammable vapors. Upgrading and improvement of the computer system for the hydroxypropyl cellulose process. Installation of an additional chlorine sensor in the process scrubber effluent of the monochloroacetic acid process to alarm and shut down the process in the event of a chlorine release. In the same
process install a paging system for instant notification of a release of chlorine from a rail car.