Technical Q&A: Chemical Storage Safety
Technical Q&A: Chemical Storage Safety
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Technical Q&A: Chemical Storage Safety
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Before designing a new plant or making changes to an existing one, it is important to understand which codes, standards and regulations apply.

Q: What rules and regulations affect the storage, handling and use of hazardous chemicals on-site?

Owners of plants that store and use hazardous materials face a maze of regulatory and legal requirements, and often turn to professionals for help.

Before designing a new plant or making changes to an existing one, it is important to understand which codes, standards and regulations apply. Experienced designers understand — or know how to determine — both the intent of codes and any actions required for compliance.

The International Fire Code (IFC) includes requirements covering storage and use of corrosives, toxics, flammable and combustible materials, and other chemicals. State fire codes or National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards also may apply. It is important to determine which code (and which version of the code) is enforced by the authority having jurisdiction.

Experienced designers also understand that codes don't always agree. One example: The NFPA 400 lists liquefied ammonia gas as flammable, while the IFC specifically excludes the gas from its own definition of flammable. Other rules may apply, depending on chemicals and processes used and what political jurisdictions a project site resides in.

Among items included in codes, which protect workers, neighbors, and first responders, are automatic sprinkler systems; maximum allowable quantities of chemicals within a storage area; detached storage; minimum distances of hazards from other buildings, public streets and adjacent properties; and explosion controls.

Codes, standards and regulations evolve, based on new knowledge and through experience with on-site events. Such factors could lead to changes in storage requirements and application of existing requirements to a wider range of facilities.

For more information, contact Angela Vawter, 816-349-6764. Vawter is a senior chemical engineer at Burns & McDonnell.

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