We have seen the images of the fires at the Arkema Chemical facility following the flooding from Hurricane Harvey. Obviously, just getting back onto the facility will be a dangerous activity, let alone actually starting up again. (CSB Urges Oil and Chemical Facilities to Take Special Safety Precautions during Startups Following Hurricane Harvey)

Obviously, shutting down operations at an industrial facility is central to preparation for an approaching Hurricane and the resulting flooding. However, even without severe flooding, startup can present process hazards that should be evaluated before turning things back on. This is not even considering the personal impacts on your employees and their families.

Field verification is the primary element of a good Pre-Start Up Safety Review (PSSR). Think of all the things that can be impacted by high winds, torrential rain, or even minor flooding:

  • Unstable chemicals
  • Impact to chemical and product storage facilities (the integrity of the containers and buildings)
  • Wet or disconnected wiring in control or safety loops
  • Damaged electrical panels (check inside)
  • Impacted rotating equipment
  • Leaking roofs installed to protect certain more sensitive pieces

…and there are probably many more, depending on your facility.

It is imperative that plant leadership puts the safety of their employees first. Ensuring that the integrity of the manufacturing and utilities systems is in good condition is the first step in avoiding a second catastrophe after the passing of a hurricane. PSSR procedures must be strictly applied to the startup process following any natural disaster.