Willmar Municipal Utilities (north east plant) - Executive Summary

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

Willmar Municipal Utilities provides water, heat, and electricity to a community of approximately 20,000 people in central Minnesota.  The only part of these operations that requires a "RMP" to be submitted is the water treatment & supply facility due to the amount of chlorine in storage used to inject chlorine into the water supply.  The systems that are used to perform this task have been designed to operate as safe as possible with todays technology.  Early detection alarm systems and emergency response procedures are maintained to promptly address the remote possibility of a system failure that could cause a release of hazardous chemicals from the treatment system. 
Willmar Municipal Utilities (WMU) maintains a very vigorous training schedule for all employees in the areas of technical expertise, safety procedures, and emergency response.  The amount of chlorine stored at each of the two water treatment plants requires WMU to implement the OSHA Process Safety Management program.  T 
he training requirements for PSM as well as the regular safety training offered, has prepared the employees at WMU to become much more efficient at performing their duties in a manner that prevents accidents and injuries.  Most Minnesota companies and organizations have been operating under the Minnesota OSHA workplace program for the reduction of injuries called "AWAIR" since 1990.  WMU has been constantly working on evaluating and improving safe operations for many years. 
The system that is utilized for chlorine injection at the WMU water plants is a "Capitol Controls Company, Inc." one ton container mounted gas feeder.  This system operates on a vacuum principal that gives it a degree of fail-safe operation.  Any failure in valves or lines between chlorine cylinder and injector nozzle will result in a loss of vacuum that will close a regulator valve to stop any release of chemical. 
Should a valve fail to operate there is a possibility of a low pressure leak from the cylinder.  To  
maintain a high degree of assurance that this will not happen, these valves are routinely sent back to the manufacturer for rebuilding and testing.  Each cylinder when empty is shipped back to the chemical supply company to be tested and recertified before filling it again.  c 
If any of the safety features of this system should fail to prevent a release from the chlorine feeder system, there is a low level alarm system in operation at all times.  The cylinders are stored in a closed room built of concrete and cement block.  The room is not vented to the outside unless a manual switch is turned on.  An alarm will sound in the power plant control room (staffed 24 hrs a day) if there is a detectable amount of chlorine over 0.25 ppm.  The control room operator will then call the emergency coordinator, who will alert the emergency response team members to respond to the location of the problem. 
Once the emergency team has arrived at the location of the alarm, they will perform a remote ai 
r monitoring procedure to determine the concentration of the chlorine inside of the building.  These employees are trained to operate at the "technician level" under the OSHA 1910.120 standard (HAZWOPER) at the "level C" requirement for personal protective equipment.  If air monitoring results show that the concentration of chlorine is too high for the safe use of a full face negative pressure respirator, the emergency team will seal off the area and call for the local fire department to respond and assist.  If air monitoring results show that safe entry can be made (less than 5 ppm), these employees will gain access and repair the problem. 
This system and its' safeguards, along with WMU employees professional approach to preventing accidents with this and other chemicals used at their facility has proved to be very effective at attaining a record of very few releases and minimal amounts of chemical lost during the emergency event.  It is the focus of WMU to maintain that record, and  
look into ways to improve the engineering, operations, and training of employees wherever possible.
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