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XIV International Forum on Industrial Safety: Outcomes

This year the Forum was attended by representatives of major companies, state supervisory authorities and international organizations from 13 counties. The experts discussed challenging safety issues, consequences of major man-made accidents and shared their knowledge. Apart from this, the Forum plenary session was marked with a unique presentation of parashuting pneumo-transformable backpacks - self-rescue gears designed for urgent evacuation from high-altitude facilities in case of emergencies. GCE Group traditionally hosted the event.

Sergey Lebedev, Chairman of Executive Committee, CIS Executive Secretary, and Dmitry Belanovich, Head of State Environmental Regulation Department of the Ministry of Nature, sent their greetings to the participants.

– It is the 30th anniversary of Chernobyl disaster this year, so the Forum is partly dedicated to those events, - says Alexander Moskalenko, GCE Group President and the Forum host. – On this occasion the Museum of Nuclear Disaster provided us its unique exhibits. There is only one exhibition of this kind in Russia. Also, considering requests of the last Forum participants, we put special focus on the technical side of solving industrial safety issues.

As mentioned above, the disaster on the Chernobyl nuclear plant was one the main topics of the Forum. The witnesses and liquidators of the accident told their stories. Changes that have occurred in the nuclear power industry for the past decades were addressed by Sergey PEREVOSCHIKOV, Head of the North-European Interregional Territory Administration on Nuclear Safety Supervision of Rostechnadzor:

- After 1986 a new concept of safety culture appeared in our industry. It is not only professional training, but also a certain system of values where occupational safety is one of the priorities. When activating a valve or performing operation on the reactor, it is the consequences of their actions that workers should think of and nothing else! I am convinced that this should be the starting point for personnel trainings. Before my promotion to the supervisory body I worked in Murmansk Shipping Company for 26 years of which 14 years I was a seaman. My career in the sea started on Lenin and finished on Taymyr nuclear-powered icebreakers. They taught us there: think about the consequences before turning the key. By the way, there was not a single accident on the Leningrad NPP for 40 years of operation. Most malfunctions on plant units occur due to technical reasons. It is not surprising: the units have been operating for over 30 years and they are naturally deteriorating. Last year 2 out of 17 power unit blackouts were caused by human error. It has been already detected that there were violations in operational procedures. For example: while repairing a pump the maintenance workers disconnected the operating pump instead of the stopped one. This, of course, triggered the safety lock and the whole unit was disconnected. Sometimes a tree falls on overhead power transmission lines during a storm.. The fuse in the open switchgear turns off instantly. Then a signal is transmitted to the control unit and the reactor power drops by 30-50%. Such situation occurred on the Leningrad NPP on New Year’s eve and the media called it no less than an accident.

Again the Forum enjoyed the visit of Indian experts. This time they were speaking about causes and consequences of the accident happened on October 29, 2009 in the oil storage of Indian Oil Corporation. The report was made by Chander Mohan Sharma, Expert of the National Certification Council for Oil& Gas Sector:

- This accident revealed serious weaknesses in the industrial safety system in our country. Although, having learned from our painful lessons, we followed all safety precautions. It all started in the evening. A leak of the product took place as a jet of liquid from the Hammer blind valve on the delivery line of the tank. The operator and the shift officer, both overwhelmed with poisonous vapors, fell unconscious. Other workers were not around. Vapor quickly filled in the building and prevented entering. There was a massive explosion followed by a huge fire ball that engulfed the entire installation. The leakage volume exceeded one ton of petrol. Generated vapor was enough to cause an explosion with the equivalence of 20 tons of TNT. It was impossible to control the fire and the rescue team did not even have any protective equipment. The firefighters were simply looking at raging fire which was extinguished only several days later. 11 people were killed and many more were injured in the accident. Losses totaled 65 million USD. Damage to the environment is beyond any assessments – even in Delhi, 150 kilometers from the accident location, smoke concentration in the air manifold exceeded the normal rates!

The main reason of the accident was absence of detailed procedures and controls for valves operation. Today, industrial safety systems have been fully redesigned all over India. New standards and requirements for refineries development, design and operations have been implemented. The most important lesson we have learned is that it is vital to duplicate safety systems and regularly check liquid levels in tanks. We also need to prioritize automation - if there had been some remote valve control, the accident would have never happened.

Vitaly MUTAPH, Deputy Head of the Civil Protection Administration of Moldavia Emercom, also spoke about the problems of polluting water areas by chemical plants:

- The risk of the Danube pollution is currently very high due to numerous industrial factories using hazardous chemicals and fuels along the river flow. That is why international cooperation on industrial safety is of utmost importance since many hazardous facilities are located on transboundary water ways. The main cause of water pollution is spills of oil, detergents, phenols and other chemicals. One of the examples of environmental catastrophes with transboundary consequences was the accident of 1986 at the Swiss Sandoz when considerable part of the water used for fire extinguishing flew into Rhein. This resulted in a huge toxic stain of 70 kilometers on the river surface. The stain stretched through Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Catastrophic impact of industrial accidents on human health was also demonstrated by the dam breach at the mining company in Baia Mare, Romania in 2000. This disaster led to spillage of 100 thousand cubic meters of liquid and suspended wastes containing 50 to 100 tons of cyanides.

The expert group of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River developed a map of possible emergency points in the river area. The UN in cooperation with the European Commission initiated a project for managing dangerous and critical situations in the Danube delta. Such measure was a result of detection of numerous problems such as insufficient transboundary collaboration on industrial safety, need to improve communications regarding potential hazards, low level of alacrity for proper emergency responding. . Today, within the project frameworks, on-site trainings are carried out and the joint action plan is being developed. Within a short period of time we managed to enhance international communication on supervision systems.

Oil spills prevention and response in Russia was addressed by Alexander GUTNIK, Head of Emergency Response and Civil Protection Department of Sakhalin Energy Investment Compnay Ltd.: - International experience in emergencies prevention and response shows that only the ability to combine mechanical and non-mechanical technologies can ensure high efficiency in elimination of large-scale oil spillages.

The existing technologies based on mechanical instruments allow collection of no more than 30% of spilled oil. . For example, after the accident in the Gulf of Mexico the responders managed to collect only 3%, burn about 5% and disperse about 7% of spilled oil. This proves that in some situations non-mechanical technologies can be more efficient. That is why we put special focus of development of cutting-edge technologies for oil spillage elimination. Recently we have completed a research on net environmental benefit analysis of using dispersants in Piltun-Astokhsk deposit and Aniva bay. Also, we have developed the Procedure for Dispersants Use Authorization in case of oil spillages on the company’s sea facilities. Moreover, many corporate trainings on dispersants application were conducted. Currently we are carrying out works aimed at implementation and communication of cutting-edge practices in application of non-mechanical technologies for oil spillages elimination involving gas and oil companies and state authorities. Apart from this, out experts in cooperation with the Central Marine Science and Research Institute are developing Regulations on Spilled Oil Burning. This research resulted in the corporate standard already authorized by the Technical Standardization Committee TK 318 “Morflot” (Order TK 318 “Morflot” no.1 as of 20 January 2015).

Albert LYSKOVSKY, Director for Occupational Safety and Environment Protection of Sibur HOLDING, shared experience of his company:

- We operate 83 facilities of I and II hazard category. So, the human error problem is one of our key considerations. In 2008 we decided to perform global changes in occupational safety systems in our plants. As a result, in 2009 we launched the Safety Culture Development Program. For its purposes we employed leading consultants and implemented a number of new practices. However, the effect of the program turned out to be below expectations of the management. The reason was that top managers’ and line managers’ views of the processes differ too much. The SIBUR Operations System was developed to tackle this problem. We redesigned the whole management system from down to top. All practices were developed within a pilot project Tomsk-Nephtekhim from workshop to workshop.

Large technogenic accidents happen regularly all over the world and this fact causes negative attitude of the society to chemical industries. The state, in its turn, reacts to such negativity by tightening supervisory regulations. This increases pressure on business. Experts have to deal with absolutely unreasonable rules and bear huge losses while complying with them. Yet, the accidents keep happening. So, in order not to wait for further state supervision toughening, companies decided to venture a joint program called “Responsible Care”. It is an international voluntary initiative aimed at multilateral efficiency improvement in occupational safety and environment protection. Major oil companies undertake development of industry-specific standards improving safety and timely implementation of preventive measures.

The neighboring states are also concerned with reducing state control and, consequently, pressure on business. This issue was developed by Nurbek KUNANBAYEV, Chairman of Inter-State Council for Industrial Safety, Deputy Chairman of Industrial Development and Safety of the Kazakhstan Ministry of Investments and Development.

- Industrial safety is, of course, responsibility of the state at first place. However, operational companies should not be left out as well. It is impossible to assign a supervisor for each elevator, crane or drilling rig. That is why we are gradually moving to reduction of the state supervision wherever it might be reasonable. In particular, following the order of Nursultan Nazarbayev, the President of Kazakhztan, on reformation of the authorizations system 84 out of 103 obligatory permits for industrial safety have been abolished.

Herewith, one of the key directions in ensuring trouble-free operations is timely decommissioning of obsolete and deteriorated equipment, plants modernization and reequipping, general implementation of modern operational safety controls. Following the initiative of the Industrial Development Committee, local authorities together with plants’ management develop annual Summary Reequipping Plans which already resulted in replacement of 7,866 units of equipment and 396 production lines from 2009 to 2015.

Apart from the topics mentioned above, the Forum also covered safety issues in mining industry, pipelines reliability and new robotics technologies. There were also several parallel sections specifically dedicated to oil industry, occupation safety and fire safety. The round table on ensuring reliability on power plants became a new feature of the Forum. The participants discussed new approaches to power systems management, needs for amendments to state regulations, implementation of the assets management system, industry-specific standards and corporate practices. Parviz Abdushukurov, Senior Engineer and Vice President for Heat Power of Fortum, acted as the round table moderator.

The organizers of the Forum also took care of those experts who could not attend the event: all the speeches were broadcasted in the Internet in the form of webinars. Traditionally, interesting excursions became the final accord of the Forum – this time the guests were invited to look at the modern historical dockyard and the flood protection facilities of Saint Petersburg.

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