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France may close next two nuclear reactors earlier than expected 23 January 2020

A French government consultation document has shown that France could shut its next two nuclear reactors in 2025-2026, much sooner than the expected 2027-2028 closure date. Reuters reports that the document said if market conditions relating to electricity prices and the evolution of European electricity are met, then the next closures would be brought forward....

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Researchers propose hydrogen alarm for remote hydrogen leak detection 22 January 2020

Researchers have suggested new sensors could act as the basis for a “hydrogen alarm” that can detect leaks of explosive hydrogen from hundreds of metres away. Tomsk Polytechnic University and University of Chemistry and Technology of Prague researchers have proposed the new sensors which are based on widely available optical fibre and ensure accurate detection of hydrogen molecules in the air....

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Two US refineries fined for safety violations 21 January 2020

Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), which owns the largest US east coast oil refinery, and PBF Energy, which owns the Torrance Refinery in California, have been fined for violations relating to process safety management, chemical safety, and risk-management....

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Australian bushfires slow coal production as hot and windy conditions set to return 21 January 2020

Australia’s largest mining company, BHP Group, has said that the poor air quality caused by the country’s bushfires in recent months has impacted coal production in the country. The mining giant said that smoke and dust had reduced air quality at its coal mines in New South Wales (NSW) so much that operations may be constrained further in the second half of 2020....

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Five dead after pipeline explosion in Nigeria 20 January 2020

An explosion and fire on a pipeline in Lagos, Nigeria killed five people and injured dozens on January 19. According to authorities, the blaze broke out after oil thieves ruptured the pipeline when trying to steal oil....

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Chile’s state oil company charged with improper fracking 17 January 2020

Empresa Nacional del Petróleo (ENAP), Chile’s state oil company, has been charged with improper fracking in Tierra del Fuego, the country’s southernmost region. The Chilean environmental regulator, the SMA, charged ENAP on January 13 after it failed to follow protocols outlined in its permits for ‘hydro-fracking’....

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Three dead, seven injured in chemical factory blast in Spain 16 January 2020

Three people were killed and seven injured after an explosion at a chemical factory in Tarragona, Spain on January 14. One person was killed after a large piece of metal was launched into the air by the blast, landing on an apartment 3km (two miles) away....

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Police investigate three ATM explosions in US 16 January 2020

Police are investigating a string of ATM explosions in Tampa, Florida after three blasts occurred in the past two months. Only one of the blasts resulted in money being stolen, however the circumstances of all three were similar to those seen in recent months in the UK and the Netherlands....

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President Trump unveils plans to simplify permit process for major projects 14 January 2020

On January 9, the Trump administration announced plans to accelerate permitting for major infrastructure projects in one of the largest deregulatory moves under the President’s leadership. Released by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the plan would allow several large-scale energy and infrastructure projects, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, to avoid legal challenges and go ahead with little pushback during the approval process.

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Study highlights new use for nuclear waste 13 January 2020

Researchers have found a new use for unused stockpiles of nuclear waste which they say may be more useful than previously thought. By transforming nuclear waste into a versatile compound, the chemistry researchers say the waste could be used as a new energy source as well as a way to create valuable commodity chemicals....

Features

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Alarming your tank farm

Twenty-five years on from a major explosion at an oil refinery, what can we learn about alarm annunciation? Here, Gary Bradshaw, Director at alarm annunciator specialist Omniflex, explains why many sites that fall within the scope of the Control of Major Hazards (COMAH) regulations are in urgent need of physical alarm panels that emit light and sound in the event of imminent danger....

Case Studies

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Utilities company puts handheld gas detection to the test

Launched in 2005, Wales and West Utilities (WWU) has a regulated gas distribution business which includes approximately 35,000 kilometres of gas pipes across Wales and the south west of England. Covering a sixth of the UK, WWU takes care of 2.5 million gas supply points in homes and businesses in a catchment area with a population of 7.5 million people....

Comment

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A new start

This is my first article for Hazardex since I left my role as the IECEx Chairman at the end of 2019. According to our rules, after two terms of three years, the chairmanship of the IECEx System must be handed over to a new person. In my case, I handed the position onto Paul Meanwell, a manufacturer’s representative from South Africa....

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