Continued maintenance and training in the management of assets in critical safety service is essential to ensuring storage facilities operate as safely and efficiently as possible.
In this highly legislated industry, the consequences of poor maintenance and lack of training can lead to catastrophic consequences, and there have been several examples of this internationally through the years.
However, the industry still remains unregulated with regards to emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and some equipment still does not meet industry standards. Many storage operators are still unaware of the losses they are incurring or the impact their emissions are having on the environment.
‘All of this is reversible at a very low cost,’ explains Ewart Cox, managing director of tank storage and process safety equipment supplier Assentech.
‘The benefits are many, including lower environmental emissions, healthier employees, higher quality feedstocks, fewer HSE interventions and hopefully no unplanned loss of containment or incidents.’
Assentech’s range of preventative maintenance programmes for tank venting equipment help to mitigate the environmental impact of storage operations as well as reduce HSE interventions and incidents.
Cox says that the programmes on offer reflect international standards API2000 and ISO EN28300 for functional testing of new equipment.
In an interview with Tank Storage Magazine he says: ‘We are surprised that many buyers in the industry have not fully adopted the minimum requirements in the manufacture and maintenance of storage tank vents, which have existed in the standards since 2008.
‘Our particular sector of the industry is very unregulated at present and needs urgent attention. The recent publication of EEMUA 231 co-branded with SAFed IMG1 makes a great start in raising awareness of the need for the management of assets in critical safety service but operating below 0.5 barg.’
The company’s tank venting solutions demonstrate how the vent performs against current standards and provides a gap analysis to inform the operator how far off the standard their equipment is if it does not pass.
The programme also includes conducting a health check on tank vent settings, which can often highlight fundamental misalignment between tank vent settings and tank MAWP.
Cox says that the company’s approach is that no venting device should function less efficiently than when new, despite its age.
‘We pre-test all breather vents prior to servicing to benchmark possible quality issues. In the safety relief industry, failure to perform is a reportable event. This has not been the case with low pressure venture, but it could be in the future with the increased awareness of the consequences of air pollution.
Resolving hidden issues
‘Many tank farm operators will have stories of collapsed tank events caused usually by misunderstanding or poor maintenance,’ explains Cox.
‘Our work has revealed many hidden issues. First of all, lower tank venting emissions will limit exposure of personnel and neighbours to harmful vapours. There is increasing awareness and some evidence-based results of the impact exposure to VOCs has on our bodies.
‘We have also cut expensive nitrogen usage by tens of thousands of pounds in the space of a few months and prevented the collapse of almost an entire tank farm following a request by the authorities to cut tank vent emissions in a building.’
Following the growing interest and support in its venting equipment solutions, the company plans to publish a buyer’s guide to compliant tank venting equipment. Cox says: ‘There is still a surprising amount of non-compliant equipment on the market that is CE marked. We have developed a mobile test bench that can be used to test and calibrate tank vents in accordance with current standards and also demonstrate a gap analysis to support decision making for the replacement of non-compliant equipment. This device is fully automated and can be used by end-users for validated self-certification.
‘We see it as our duty to advise and inform the industry towards a cleaner and safer future.’
Cox will be talking more about the control of VOC emissions from storage terminals on the second day of the ChemUK conference. For more information visit www.chemicalukexpo.com.