Puna Geothermal Venture - Executive Summary
This Risk Management Plan (RMP) is part of Puna Geothermal Venture's (PGV's) continuing commitment to minimize the potential negative impact we have on our employees, our community neighbors, and the environment. We believe it is important for all interested parties to have access to information that can help them better understand our business and our facility. If you have any questions about this document, or any other aspect of our company or our plans, please call us at (808) 965-6233, or visit our website at http://www.punageothermalventure.com.
ACCIDENTAL RELEASE PREVENTION AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE POLICIES
Our company is committed to operating a safe and environmentally sound power generating facility. Protecting our community neighbors and employees is a high priority. This ongoing commitment is demonstrated through the resources we invest for safe design, operation, and maintenance of our facility and related activities.
In order to ensure the most efficient
use of the geothermal resources availible on the Big Island, PGV uses some materials that are classified as toxic or flammable in its power generation process. We are committed to complying with governing laws, regulations, and standards as well as systematic assessments to manage and maintain a safe operation, including the storage and use of the toxic or flammable materials.
Our facility design, operating practices and procedures ensure that numerous controls are implemented to prevent an accidental release of a chemical. However, if a major release should occur, our comprehensive emergency response organization will be immediately activated in order to bring under control and mitigate the effects of an emergency release of toxic or flammable materials.
DESCRIPTION OF THE FACILITY AND REGULATED SUBSTANCES
PGV produces electric energy from a geothermal power plant and geothermal wellfield located on the Big Island of Hawaii. The project is located approximately 21 miles south o
f Hilo in the Puna District. PGV is sited on about 500 acres of land in the Kapoho area, of which approximately 25 acres house the facility.
Our modern facility supplies electric power to homes, businesses and a wide variety of consumers all across the Big Island. PGV is the first commercial geothermal power plant in the state of Hawaii and is currently contracted to produce 30 megawatts of power...or enough electricity to meet the energy needs of over 30,000 Big Island residents and visitors. By making effective use of our geothermal resources, we can decrease our near-total reliance on imported oil for our energy needs. We are proud to have produced more than 1.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity through March 1999, thereby displacing more than 100 million gallons of oil.
In addition, the 30-plus people employed at PGV represent a real cross-section of the local community. Our families own homes in the area, attend local schools and churches, and are members of numerous co
mmunity organizations. Our annual payroll alone adds almost $2 million directly to the local economy.
PGV also regularly contributes staff time and dollars to local programs and activities, including: $2,000 each year to RIF (Reading is Fundamental), $50,000 each year to Hawaii County, and employs one student from Pahoa High School each summer.
PGV uses one (1) chemical in sufficient quantities to be regulated under the EPA's Risk Management Program (RMP) rule. This is n-pentane (CAS# 109-66-0), a regulated flammable substance. Pentane is used as a working fluid in our power generation process.
Other materials at our facility are not regulated under RMP because we either handle them in quantities below the thresholds for regulation or in very low concentrations (i.e., below 1%). These include geothermal well-fluids that contain small amounts of hydrogen sulfide.
HAZARD ASSESSMENT RESULTS
As part of our risk management planning, we have specifically identified the type of even
t that, should it ever occur, would have the most negative impacts on our employees or our neighbors. This is known as the Worst-Case Scenario (WCS). As defined by EPA, we are required to assume that the numerous engineering and administrative safety controls we have in place to prevent or mitigate such accidents have all failed at once. Under this regulation, we are required to identify one event involving pentane, a flammable material.
The worst-case scenario would involve the catastrophic failure of a storage tank containing pentane liquid. A catastrophic failure means an event that essentially results in the instantaneous release of the entire vessel contents, which is, in this case, up to 51,600 pounds of pentane. The scenario assumes that the pentane will completely vaporize, ignite, and result in a vapor cloud explosion. According to EPA guidelines, exposure to the effects of a vapor cloud explosion above a blast level of 1 psi (pound per square inch) of pressure, can res
ult in adverse health effects. We have estimated that this level could reach as far as 0.30 miles (or 1560 feet) from our power plant, which is less than the distance to our nearest neighbor.
GENERAL ACCIDENTAL RELEASE PREVENTION PROGRAM/CHEMICAL-SPECIFIC PREVENTION STEPS
PGV has implemented a comprehensive program known as Process Safety Management (PSM) to prevent accidental releases of highly hazardous chemicals. PSM is an integral part of working safely here at PGV. PSM ensures that proper safety information is in place; operating procedures are followed; chemical hazards are identified; employees and contractors are trained and qualified; equipment designs are appropriate to applicable standards; equipment replacements are "like in kind"; and critical equipment is properly inspected and maintained. Some of the many, specific safety features to prevent a chemical accident include:
7 Extensive safety information about the process available to employees;
7 Written operating p
rocedures that include emergency response actions;
7 Comprehensive employee and contractor training programs to promote consistently safe work-practices;
7 Maintenance programs to ensure ongoing equipment reliability - includes equipment testing and inspection;
7 Compliance auditing to ensure standards are being followed;
7 A safety procedure to review proposed plant modifications before they are implemented for possible hazards;
7 Safety pre-qualification for all contractors;
7 Safety reviews prior to start-up of our process; and,
7 Safety procedures that control hazards during special operations such as welding and cutting.
FIVE-YEAR ACCIDENT HISTORY
Over the past five years, the PGV site has an outstanding record of accident prevention that demonstrates its commitment to public and employee safety. Even minor incidents are investigated to identify what went wrong and to learn how to prevent future occurrences.
The RMP requires that all incidents involving pentane that res
ulted in any off-site impact or a significant on-site impact be reported in this document. During the previous five-year period, no such incidents occurred at PGV.
EMERGENCY RESPONSE PROGRAM
PGV maintains a written plan of action to deal with emergency situations that may threaten the health, safety, and welfare of our employees or our community neighbors. This emergency response plan ensures that:
7 The chain-of-command and responsibilities have been clearly defined both for our employees and off-site responders in the event of an emergency;
7 Emergency equipment and services are available both on-site and in the community;
7 Potential emergency situations have been identified and prepared for;
7 Warning systems, which alert our employees and prompt them to notify our community emergency responders, are in place;
7 Our employees are trained in the proper response to an incident; and
7 Periodic emergency preparedness drills are conducted to ensure readiness.
We have develope
d this plan in coordination with numerous public agencies that have approved of our planning. These include:
7 Hawaii County Planning Department,
7 Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency, and
7 Hawaii Department of Health.
PLANNED CHANGES TO IMPROVE SAFETY
PGV is committed to continuously improving our overall safety and environmental performance. We continuously strive to find new and innovate ways to improve our power generation process thereby improving environmental performance and minimizing risk.