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The XI International Forum on Industrial Safety - Summary of Results

The Conference within the frames of the XI International Forum on Industrial Safety (organized by GCE Group) was held on 27-29 May, 2013, in Saint-Petersburg. The vital issues of industrial safety were discussed by representatives of state supervisory authorities, intergovernmental organizations and companies from 15 countries.

Leonid Deshin, Head of Department for Licensing and State Registration of Hazardous Industrial Facilities (North-West Administration of RosTechNadzor of Russia), in his report brought up problems that had begun after enactment of changes to Federal Law No. 116-FZ and other documents on 04 March, 2013. As it was found out, the situation got complicated not only for companies and experts. Federal inspectors of RosTechNadzor were faced with difficulties in organizing the planned facility audits, as some hazardous industrial facilities lost their status of hazardous sites after enactment of the legislation changes, but they had not yet been excluded from the list of facilities to be audited. The problem is being solved on the Government level, but now RosTechNadzor has to operate under current conflicting requirements.

Moreover, it has been announced that the Government of Russia decided on to empower RosTechNadzor, as of 13 May, 2013, with control functions in the sphere of compliance with Technical Regulations of the Customs Union "On Safety of Machinery and Equipment". It should be kept in mind that the document became effective on 15 February, 2013.

Alexey Isakov, Director for Science of GCE Group, told about the content of a draft of new changes considered for the legislation on industrial safety, now brought before the State Duma. The draft provides a status definition for an expert on industrial safety and stipulates criminal responsibility for issuing a knowingly fraudulent expert report on the appraisal of industrial safety.

As estimated by A. Isakov, Federal Law No. 116-FZ "On Industrial Safety of Hazardous Operational Facilities" will stay raw and underworked even after all already enacted and now considered changes. Thus, state regulation of industrial safety is still the only form of control over this sphere, though discussions on possibility and necessity of establishing self-regulatory organizations have been already going on over the last ten years.

The legislators are also not ready to introduce such notion as the acceptable level of risk. In A. Isakov's opinion, it is rather a political decision, as it would be equal to declaring that death of N amount of people in a man-made accident is acceptable. A compromise was achieved by introduction of a notion of safety analysis based on risk assessment.  But no explanations have been provided so far on how the result of the quantitative risk assessment is going to be treated.

The leading officials of state supervisory authorities of Belarus, Armenia, Moldova and Kyrgyzstan summarized results of activities to improve legislation on industrial safety in their countries. Nikolay Savov and Sandra Ashcroft, representatives of the UNECE; shared their experience in prevention of emergency situations and implementation of the UNECE Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents.

Rushti Safar ogly Safarov, Director of the Azerbaijan State Research Institute of Occupational Safety and Accident Prevention under EMERCOM of the Republic of Azerbaijan, shared with the Conference participants the information about possibility and methods to reduce probability of man-made accidents and their consequences on the stages of design and reconstruction of hazardous industrial facilities (HIF). According to statistics of GCE Group, in 2012 only about 2% of construction collapses in Russia happened due to mistakes done already on the design stage, but this percentage fluctuates year over year, which confirms Mr. Safarov's opinion on necessity to continue working to reduce risks at the design stage.

For the first time in Russia there was a presentation of the detailed information about the most serious man-made disaster in the history of mankind, that in Bhopal, India, where about 20 thousand people died as a result of methyl isocyanate gas leak from a chemical plant. Madhukar Garg, Director of CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum; was the reporter on this case. Comparison of safety systems at two plants of the same UCC corporation, one in India and another in the USA, showed that industrial safety at the Bhopal chemical plant was on a criminally low level. Dr. Garg indicated that the reason of the catastrophic accident was a combination of the human and technological mistakes.

The session dedicated to man-made disasters of the last years also included reports on the Chevron Refinery fire that occurred in 2012 in the USA, Ostankino TV Tower fire, the wreck of the "Kolskaya" drilling rig (Russia), and the accident with a tanker near the Lorelei rock (Germany).

Just to remind you that on 07 August, 2012, there was a serious fire at one of the largest refineries in the USA located in Richmond (California), and it resulted in an injury of one plant worker and mass poisoning of local citizens. Investigation results on this accident had not been reported in Russia before.

Russian specialist who were present at the Forum stated that the emergency at Chevron was the result of non-compliance with the basic rules of industrial safety - obvious corrosion processes of metal parts had not been noticed in due time. "How could it happen? Welcome to the USA!" was an answer of Neal Langerman, Chairman of the Division of Chemical Health & Safety of the American Chemical Society, who analyzed the accident. In opinion of the chemist, approaches to industrial safety in the USA and Russia are very different. While in Russia the legislation is based on administrative orders, and legal requirements are rather strict and detailed, in the USA laws are much more flexible for companies. After the catastrophic accident in the Gulf of Mexico, US President Barack Obama made some statements on necessity to impose stricter controls over activity of industries working with petroleum products. However, the efficiency of measures taken so far is questionable.

Alexander Volkov, Chief Technical Labour Inspector of the Russian Oil, Gas and Construction Workers' Union, in his report on another catastrophic accident - the wreck of the "Kolskaya" drilling rig in the Sea of Okhotsk on 18 December, 2011 - told about results of his own investigation. "We don't know how to save people," summarized the trade union official his report about a whole complex of mistakes (including safety instructions breach by the drilling rig owners and lack of co-ordination between the tugboat crew and EMERCOM personnel) that led to death of 53 persons. In A. Volkov's opinion, in the current situation, when Russian companies start exploring the shelf, it is necessary not only to introduce changes into the legislation in order to take into account non-standard conditions of natural resources development, but also to improve control over organizations licensed for offshore exploration.

Igor Kulakov, Head of Research and Analysis Department of Center "Antistikhiya" of EMERCOM of Russia, raised an issue of the EMERCOM Administrative Regulations of 02 May, 2012, "On Review of Declarations of Industrial Safety for Hazardous Industrial Facilities (HIF)". In accordance with these Regulations, EMERCOM should take over functions of reviewing expert appraisals of industrial safety. A similar function is still performed by RosTekhNadzor of Russia. The expert community have noticed that the approval procedures for expert appraisals became more complicated after the Regulations came into force. As it was mentioned by A. Isakov, the document created impassable barriers because of which expert appraisals of HIF industrial safety can be sent from one level of authority to another during the period of over half a year. I. Kulakov supported the initiative aimed to reduce the administrative pressure on expert community. According to him, joint efforts and close contacts with the All-Russia Scientific Research Institute on Problems of Civil Defense and Emergency Situations should be realized to solve this problem, and the ideal platform for such discussions could be the Forum on Industrial Safety.

Vladimir Pimenov, Chief of Section for State Supervision over Hydroelectric Power Plants and Hydrotechnical Structures of Rostekhnadzor of Russia, delivered a report containing a comprehensive analysis of accidents at hydraulic engineering structures. The supervisory body recorded 8 hydroengineering incidents in 2012, and the most serious of them was in Krymsk.

As stated by V. Pimenov, one should not say that hydroengineering structures provoked the tragedy that led to a big number of fatalities and captured the headlines. The so-called cascading failure occurred because of debris accumulation higher up the Adagum River. The hydroengineering structures were not designed to sustain the resulting wave that carried the water with the speed of 1500 m3 per second. The main reason for the tragic consequences is an organizational failure.

According to V. Pimenov, changes are being prepared to Federal Law No. 117 “On Safety of Hydraulic Engineering Structures" aimed to improve regulation of the hydroengineering structures of uncertain ownership that can suffer age-related degradation and become a danger for safety of whole regions and their population. It is also planned to make local community administrations responsible for the population safety and early notification of emergency situations.

On the last day of the Conference the world experience of achieving safe and efficient operation of industrial facilities was presented by the following speakers: Neal Langerman (American Chemical Society) with a report on results of an investigation of the explosion caused by ammonium nitrate at a plant in Texas; Gumer Murzakhanov (Mosgaz) with an analysis of reasons for an accident at the Moscow gas pipeline in October 2012; and Sergey Abdulkhairov (Electric Stations, Kyrgyzstan) with an analysis of reasons for accidents during operation of the company equipment.

The Conference was concluded with a block of reports on reduction of accidents' probability delivered by industrial safety experts from GCE Group. Natalya Alexeeva, Leading Expert of GCE Risk Analysis Department, told about the methods to minimize incident rates already on stages of design or reconstruction of facilities, based on her experience with Russian industrial companies. Ilya Petukhov, Head of GCE R&D Department, delivered a report on his strategy of managing safe operation of hazardous industrial facilities with the use of high technologies.

Speaking about the XI International Forum on Industrial Safety, Alexander Moskalenko, GCE Group President, stated that the event was growing, and this year the event was attended by new delegations from India, Estonia, Bulgaria and Kirghizia. "Already now it has become clear that one of the main issues at the next Forum should be the problem of hazardous goods transportation," said A. Moskalenko. "We have heard a number of reports on this subject, our colleagues from Belarus and Germany also have talked about the issue. In future a separate session will be dedicated to hazardous goods transportation, as this issue is still vital. In 2012-2013 a number of emergency situations involving railroad wagons loaded with chemicals occurred in Russia and other parts of the world. An unsatisfactory condition of the wagons was the most often reported reason. By the way, we started the second day of the Conference with the information about another derailment accident, this time in the State of Maryland, USA. So, it has become an urgent problem - it's time to solve it."
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