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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 09:01 PM
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Ethanol Plant Dust Explosions and Fires

http://oshaunderground.blogspot.com/2009/03/ethanol-pla...

Saturday, March 7, 2009
Ethanol Plant Dust Explosions and Fires

Like a small tremor on the San Andreas fault line of the West Coast as a precursor to the big one, the recent explosion at the ethanol plant in Hastings, Nebraska provides a similar warning. In less than a year over a dozen combustible dust related fires and explosions have occurred at ethanol facilities throughout the Midwest. The importance of donning proper PPE such as flame resistant clothing (FRC) in such a work environment takes on added dimension with now learning the workers T-shirts were set on fire from the blast. A week prior to the Hastings explosion, according to media accounts, an ethanol plant in Casselton, North Dakota experienced a minor fire in the dust collection bin.

Ethanol plants have complex explosion and fire hazards not found in other manufacturing national industries (NAICS) where the attributes of a grain handling facility is combined with a chemical plant in the production of ethyl alcohol. Subsequently, these process facilities must follow stringent regulatory guidelines according to the OSHA Process Management Standard (PSM) and EPA Risk Management Program (RPM). Additionally, combustible dust hazards are addressed in the OSHA Grain Facility Standard.

With the multitude of regulatory control measures protecting workers, the environment, and the public; accidents still happen. The question arises can the current high incident rate be minimized? In less than a year five ethanol plant explosions have occurred in Michigan, Minnesota, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Nebraska with ensuing injuries in 40% of these incidents.

So what is an unacceptable accident and injury rate before stakeholders reassess current administrative and best engineering control measures? All the proper administrative and best engineering control measures seem to be in place in the prevention and mitigation of fires and explosions. Yet the incidents are exponentially higher than any other national industry(NAICS) in the manufacturing sector. Hazard awareness through a multitude of educational programs is an excellent measure in addressing this issue.

FULL story at link.

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DainBramaged Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 09:11 PM
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1. High Corn Prices Cast Shadow Over Ethanol Plants
A rush to cash in on ethanol has slowed as soaring corn prices squeeze profit margins for producers of the alternative fuel. At a recent high of $7 per bushel, the corn used to make ethanol has tripled in price since many plants were built two years ago, and some facilities have been shut down or put on hold.

Ethanol took off in 2006, in response to two federal policies.

One policy was longstanding: Most gasoline had to include an additive that would oxygenate it, make it burn cleaner and reduce air pollution. The other policy was new: The government decided not to shield the oil companies against lawsuits over the additive that they had been using methyl tertiary-butyl ether, or MTBE, which was found to contaminate groundwater.

So there had to be a different additive. Ethanol, a type of alcohol that is distilled from corn, fit the bill. And the oil companies could get a 51-cent-per-gallon tax credit for using ethanol.

The rush was on, and producers moved quickly to get ethanol plants online.

But recent ethanol news from the Corn Belt has been a lot less upbeat, as many ethanol-plant projects have stalled.



http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92...

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