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Explosion prevention innovation

02 February 2009

Fuel station maintenance firm, Eurotank Environmental, has scooped a downstream safety award, thanks to an explosion prevention solution from Pyroban.
Maintenance operations at petrol station forecourts require access to vent-off pipes, which are typically located at heights of 4-6 meters, often in difficult to reach areas.

Explosion prevention innovation
Explosion prevention innovation

The vent cap and pressure vacuum valve must be inspected and replaced annually, but this operation usually results in a sudden burst of flammable vapour venting to the immediate area.

Ed Wheeler, Managing Director of Eurotank Environmental, a company that provides forecourt tank maintenance services for supermarkets and oil companies, explained “Direct access to the valves is usually difficult where, traditionally, ladders or access towers were used. With strengthened Work at Height Regulations in 2007, we wanted to introduce motorised access platforms that we can easily tow nationwide and quickly set up. However, it wasn’t that simple because of the flammable vapour and risk of explosion”.
Eurotank’s risk assessment showed that there were significant ignition sources present on the trailer mounted Niftylift 90s that they selected. “We had to find a solution to prevent the equipment from causing an ignition in the unlikely event that the vapour and air mix could support an explosion during a stage 1b VR inspection.”

Niftylift, the manufacturer, provides access platforms for operation at refineries and other hazardous sites where potentially explosive atmospheres exist with the help of Pyroban, a company that modifies equipment so that it can’t cause an explosion.

“We needed an economic, added safety solution.” explained Wheeler.
Pyroban’s solution was a Gascheka system that provides visual and audible alarm if just 10% of the Lower Explosive Limit (LEL propane) is detected. At 25% LEL, the system automatically shuts down the equipment to isolate the ignition sources. The system was installed featuring two gas (vapour) detection heads, one at ground level near the electric motor and one which moves with the operator’s cage. The system is fitted with an automatic gas test so that the operator knows that both sensing heads are working each time the platform is used. In addition, the system self calibrates to ensure continued integrity of the sensing device.

“Not only do we have to think about the safety of our engineers, but also the safety of customers who will still be using the fuel station while maintenance operations are carried out.”
Eurotank Environmental won the Health and Safety award at the APEA (Association of Petroleum Explosives Administration) 2008 awards.

“No other company is taking this approach downstream, so we are delighted that our commitment to safety, using Pyroban equipment, has won this award.” commented Wheeler. “Our procedures ensure that our engineers can work safely at height and the explosion risk is managed effectively.”

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