Chunchula Gas Plant - Executive Summary

| Accident History | Chemicals | Emergency Response | Registration | Source | Executive Summary |

Chunchula Gas Plant Risk Management Plan: 
Executive Summary 
The Chunchula Gas 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 our process. Our policy is to implement reasonable controls to prevent foreseeable releases of regulated substances. However, if a release does occur, gas plant trained personnel will respond to control and contain the release. 
The Chunchula Gas Plant, located in Chunchula (Mobile County), Alabama, operates a process to produce petroleum products (e.g., natural gas, propane, butane, condensate) from natural gas. The Chunchula Gas Plant has several regulated flammables, such as propane and butane. The Chunchula Gas Plant does not us 
e and/or process any regulated toxic substances above threshold quantities. 
The worst- case scenario (WCS) associated with a release of flammable substances in the Program Level 3 process at the gas plant is a vapor cloud explosion (VCE) involving the full inventory of the largest storage tank containing propane. The storage tank inventory of 400,000 lbs. is assumed to release and ignite, resulting in a VCE.  The maximum distance to the 1-psi endpoint for this WCS is 0.6 mile, resulting in offsite impact.   Although we have numerous controls to prevent such releases and to manage their consequences, no credit for passive mitigation measures was taken into account in evaluating this WCS. 
The alternative release scenario (ARS) for a flammable substance at the gas plant is a VCE resulting from the release of unliquidfied propane from a storage tank relief valve (340,000 lbs. released in approximately 2.9 hours).  The maximum distance to the 1- 
psi endpoint for this event is 0.3 mile, resulting in offsite (pipeline metering station) impact.  Although the release is expected to be mitigated by applying a water spray (to disperse the vapors) from strategically located fire water monitors, no credit for active mitigation measures was taken into account in evaluating the ARS.  This event was selected as being a practical scenario for use in emergency planning and response.   
The following is a summary of the accident prevention program in place at the plant. Because the process at the gas plant is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) risk management program (RMP) regulation it is 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. 
Employee Particip 
The Chunchula Gas Plant encourages employees to participate in all facets of process safety management and accident prevention. Examples of employee participation range from updating/compiling technical documents and chemical information to participating as a member of a process hazard analysis (PHA) team. Employees have access to all information created as part of the gas plant accident prevention program. Specific ways that employees can be involved in the accident prevention program are documented in an employee participation plan (PSM-Chunchula NGL Extraction Book-Tab 1)  that is maintained at the gas plant and addresses each accident prevention program element. In addition, the gas plant has a number of initiatives under way that address process safety and employee safety issues. These initiatives include forming (MOC-PHA) teams to promote both process and personal safety. The teams typically have members from various areas of the plant, including operations, maintenance, 
engineering, and plant management. 
Process Safety Information 
The Chunchula Gas Plant keeps a variety of technical documents that are used to help maintain safe operation of the process. These documents address chemical properties and associated hazards, limits for key process parameters and specific chemical inventories, and equipment design basis/configuration information. Specific departments within the gas plant are assigned responsibility for maintaining up-to-date process safety information. A table summarizing the reference documents and their location is readily available as part of the written employee participation plan to help employees locate any necessary process safety information. 
Chemical-specific information, including exposure hazards and emergency response/ exposure treatment considerations, is provided in material safety data sheets (MSDSs). This information is supplemented by documents that specifically address known corrosion concerns and any known hazar 
ds associated with the inadvertent mixing of chemicals. For specific process areas, the gas plant has documented safety-related limits for specific process parameters (e.g., temperature, level, composition) in a Operating Procedures Manual and a PSI-Vessels, Tanks, Pumps, Filters and Exchangers Range Of Operations Manual. The gas plant ensures that the process is maintained within these limits using process controls and monitoring instruments, highly trained personnel, and protective instrument systems (e.g., automated shutdown systems). 
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 propo 
sed process and facility changes to ensure that safety features in the process are not compromised. 
Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) 
The Chunchula Gas Plant has a comprehensive program to help ensure that hazards associated with the  process are identified and controlled. Within this program, the process is systematically examined to identify hazards and ensure that adequate controls are in place to manage these hazards. 
The Chunchula Gas Plant primarily uses a combination of what-if/checklist analysis, hazard and operability (HAZOP) analysis, and a modified version of publication API RP14C ( Analysis, Design, Installation, and Testing of Basic Surface Safety Systems for Offshore Production Platforms analysis technique to perform these evaluations). The basic process hazard concerns for designing an offshore facility are similar to those of an onshore facility.  Specifically, those concerns are to protect the personnel, the environment, and the facility from threats to safety cau 
sed by the process.  The concerns for the offshore facility which is different from the onshore facility is the close proximity of personnel (both on-duty and off-duty) to the processing equipment, which generally warrants additional safety equipment.  The majority of the processing equipment at the gas plant is also commonly used in offshore facilities.  Pressure vessels, tanks, pumps, compressors, exchangers, piping, and instrumentation are subject to the same process deviations whether they are sitting on an offshore platform or inside an onshore facility.  These common pieces of equipment have been analyzed in the API-RP-14C publication which was also used in analyzing the similar equipment at the gas plant. In addition to using API-RP-14C, each individual may envision certain circumstances not identified in the API-RP-14C method that they feel needs to be addressed.  The analyses are conducted using a team of people with expertise in engineering and process operations, and the tea 
m includes at least one operation employee who has experience and knowledge specific to the gas plant process.  Also, at least one member of the team will be knowledgeable in the specific process hazard analysis methodology used.  This team identifies and evaluates hazards of the process as well as accident prevention and mitigation measures.  The team makes suggestions for additional prevention and/or mitigation measures when such measures are necessary.  
The PHA team findings are forwarded to local 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 pro 
cess 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. 
Operating Procedures 
The Chunchula Gas Plant maintains written procedures that address various modes of process operations, such as (1) unit startup, (2) normal operations, (3) temporary operations, (4) emergency shutdown, (5) normal shutdown, and (6) initial startup of a new process. These procedures can be used as a reference by experienced operators and provide a basis for consistent training of new operators. These procedures are periodically reviewed an 
d annually certified as current and accurate. The procedures are kept current and accurate by revising them as necessary to reflect changes made through the management of change process.  
In addition, the Chunchula Gas Plant maintains a Operating Procedures Manual that provides guidance on how to respond to upper or lower limit exceedances for specific process or equipment parameters. This information, along with written operating procedures, is readily available to operators in the process unit and for other personnel to use as necessary to safely perform their job tasks. 
To complement the written procedures for process operations, the Chunchula Gas Plant has implemented a comprehensive training program for all employees involved in operating the  process.  New employees receive basic training in gas plant operations if they are not already familiar with such operations.  After successfully completing this training, a new operator is paired with a senior operator to  
learn process-specific duties and tasks.  After operators demonstrate (e.g., through tests, skills demonstration) adequate knowledge to perform the duties and tasks in a safe manner on their own, they can work independently.  In addition, all operators periodically receive refresher training on the operating procedures to ensure that their skills and knowledge are maintained at an 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 Chunchula Gas Plant uses contractors to supplement its work force 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 the appropriate knowledge and skills, (3) are aware of the hazards in t 
heir workplace, (4) understand what they should do in the event of an emergency, (5) understand and follow site safety rules, and (6) inform gas plant personnel of any hazards that they find during their work.  This is accomplished by providing contractors with (1) a process overview, (2) information about safety and health hazards, (3) emergency response plan requirements, and (4) safe work practices prior to their beginning work.  In addition, the Chunchula Gas Plant evaluates contractor safety programs and performance during the selection of a contractor. Gas plant personnel periodically monitor contractor performance to ensure that contractors are fulfilling their safety obligations. 
Pre-startup Safety Reviews (PSSRs) 
The Chunchula Gas Plant conducts a PSSR for any new facility or facility modification that requires a change in the process safety information.  The purpose of the PSSR is to ensure that safety features, procedures, personnel, and equipment are appropriately pre 
pared for startup prior to placing the equipment into service.  This review provides one additional check to make sure construction is in accordance with the design specifications and that all supporting systems are operationally ready.  The PSSR review team uses checklists to verify all aspects of readiness.  A PSSR involves field verification of the construction and serves a quality assurance function by requiring verification that accident prevention program requirements are properly implemented. 
Mechanical Integrity 
The Chunchula Gas Plant has well-established practices and procedures to maintain pressure vessels, piping systems, relief and vent systems, controls, pumps and compressors, and emergency shutdown systems in a safe operating condition.  The basic aspects of this program include: (1) conducting training, (2) developing  written and published procedures, (3) performing inspections and tests, (4) correcting identified deficiencies, 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, and (5) applicable safe work practices to help ensure that they can perform their jobs in a safe manner.  Published written procedures help ensure that work is performed in a consistent manner and provide a basis for training.  Inspections and tests are performed to help ensure that equipment functions as intended and to verify that equipment is within acceptable limits (e.g., adequate wall thickness for pressure vessels).  If a deficiency is identified, employees will correct the deficiency before placing the equipment back into service (if possible), or a management of change team will review the use of the equipment and determine what actions are necessary to ensure the safe operation of the equip 
Another integral part of the mechanical integrity program is quality assurance.  The Chunchula Gas 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 Chunchula Gas 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 or 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 ot 
hers), along with training of affected personnel, form a system to help ensure that operations and maintenance activities are performed safely. 
Management of Change 
The Chunchula Gas Plant has a comprehensive system to manage changes to all covered processes.  This system requires that changes to items such as process equipment, chemicals, 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 with any necessary training on the change. 
Incident Investigation 
The Chunchula Gas Plant promptl 
y investigates all incidents that resulted in, or reasonably could have resulted in, a fire/explosion, toxic gas release, major property damage, environmental loss, or personal injury. The goal of each investigation is to determine the facts and develop corrective actions to prevent a recurrence of the incident or a similar incident. The investigation team documents its findings, develops recommendations to prevent a recurrence, and forwards these results to gas plant management for resolution. Corrective actions taken in response to the investigation team's findings and recommendations are tracked until they are complete. The final resolution of each finding or recommendation is documented, and the investigation results are reviewed with employees (including contractors) who could be affected by the findings. Incident investigation reports are retained for at least 5 years so that the reports can be reviewed during future PHAs and PHA revalidations.  
Compliance Audits 
To help en 
sure that the accident prevention program is functioning properly, the Chunchula Gas 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. Personnel from other Unocal facilities who are knowledgeable in the audit process participate as team members.  The audit team develops findings that are forwarded to gas 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.  
The process at the Chunchula Gas Plant has 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 facili 
Universal Prevention Activities 
The accident prevention program summarized previously is applied to the RMP-covered process at the Chunchula Gas 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 Chunchula Gas 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: 
Release Detection 
? Hydrocarbon/hydrogen sulfide/sulfur dioxide detectors with alarms 
. Fire detection (fire eyes) 
Release Containment/Control 
? Process relief valves that discharge to a flare to capture and incinerate episodic releases 
? Valves to permit isolation of the process (manual or automated) 
? Automated shutdown systems for specific process parameters (e.g., high tem 
? Curbing or diking to contain liquid releases 
? Redundant equipment and instrumentation (e.g., uninterruptible power supply for process control system, backup firewater pump) 
? Atmospheric relief devices. 
Release Mitigation 
? Suppression and extinguishing systems 
? Deluge system for specific equipment 
? Trained emergency response personnel 
? Personal protective equipment (e.g., chemical protective clothing, self-contained breathing apparatus) 
? Blast-resistant building to help protect control systems and personnel 
The Chunchula Gas plant has an excellent record (no incidents that resulted in onsite or offsite effects) of accident prevention over the past 5 years. If  an incident did occur, we would investigate the incident very carefully to determine ways to prevent similar incidents from recurring. 
The Chunchula Gas Plant maintains a written emergency response plan, 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 plan is updated when necessary based on modifications made to the gas  
plant process or other Chunchula Gas Plant facilities. Emergency response plan 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 Chunchula Gas Plant is coordinated with the Mobile County, Alabama, local emergency planning committee (LEPC-EMA). This committee meets periodically and includes local emergency response officials, local government officials, and industry representatives. The Chunchula Gas Plant has around-the-clock communications capability with appropriate LEPC (EMA) 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 addition, the Chunchula Gas Plant conducts periodic emergency drills that might involve the LEPC (EMA)  and emergency response organizations. 
e Chunchula Gas Plant resolves all findings from PHAs, some of which result in modifications to the process. The following types of changes are planned over the next few years in response to PHA, safety audit, and incident investigation findings: 
? Upgraded process control system. 
? Hydrocarbon release detection system in the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) loading rack area 
? Continued and updated written operating procedures in the plant process area 
? Upgraded fire protection system in the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) loading rack area
Click to return to beginning