The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) investigated two explosions in the past year in an industrial plant in North Carolina and a nearly completed power plant in Connecticut. In both cases, the venting of natural gas through the piping system and into the atmosphere led to ignition and subsequent fatalities. The CSB issued urgent safety recommendations to NFPA and other parties.
Subsequently, the National Fuel Gas Code Committee issued a Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA 54-09-3) that addresses the purging of air and fuel gas from gas piping systems. However, the process of using natural gas to clean the piping system, which led to the explosion at the power plant, does not fall within the scope of the National Fuel Gas Code because fuel gas piping in electric utility power plants is not
within the scope of the code (Section 126.96.36.199 ).
Therefore, the NFPA Standards Council proposed two options for consideration. The first option is to revise the scope of the National Fuel Gas Code Technical Committee to permit it to address power plant piping systems, which would then permit the consideration of revisions to the code to address pipe cleaning operations using fuel gas. In addressing this option, the Standards Council must decide whether the National Fuel Gas Code is the most appropriate location to address these types of operations; whether the members of the committee have the necessary expertise to do so; and, whether the committee members themselves believe that it should undertake that
The second option being considered is to have the Standards Council appoint a separate technical committee that would develop a standard dedicated to addressing the safe practices associated with an array of gas process activities, including the “cleaning of gas piping, enriching the concentration within gas piping during commissioning (charging the line), and discharge of gas already in the system during gas purging or maintenance.”
The Standards Council voted to publish a notice seeking input from the National Fuel Gas Code Committee and the general public by September 17 on how to proceed. The input received will be reviewed by the Council at its October 2010 meeting. To provide input, please go to www.nfpa.org and look under “Codes and Standards.”
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