Elimination of traffic-flow exposure during hazmat offloads

Challenge. As an OSHA VPP facility, Rathdrum Power Plant management challenges the facility’s team members to be vigilant for identifiable safety-related improvements. An identified hazard was submitted detailing the inherent risks of allowing continued vehicular traffic flow during chemical and hydrogen-gas offloading.

The facility’s access roadway flows around the main power-block building (see plant photo) with traffic expected to follow in a one-way clockwise route. This path exposes traffic to potential hazards associated with the transfer of hydrogen gas and ends with potential exposure to the facility’s process chemical and ammonia offload area.

Solution. Without a manned security gate, plant personnel determined a method for effectively restricting traffic flow to one direction or the other during transfer evolutions was necessary. After reviewing numerous suggestions, the team decided on placing chains or cables across the roadway at four points to restrict traffic from the two identified areas.

Next decision: Which material would serve best in an industrial environment—a painted chain or cable? Because the chemical offload station was close to the cooling tower and its challenging environment, the team decided on cost-effective, high-visibility, safety-yellow plastic chain to avoid the maintenance associated with metal.

Storage and ease of access was the next consideration. The team did not want to retrieve the chains prior to each use and opted for a permanent mounting to simplify deployment when required (photos). This was achieved by mounting hose reels at the four locations. This solution also provided a clean method of chain storage and allow for easy retraction once the evolution was completed.

Results. The maintenance department ordered the necessary materials and once installed the plant had effectively eliminated the associated hazards posed to visitors during the transfer of hazardous materials.

The CRO still identifies the optimal route to be taken when visitors enter the facility, but we no longer risk having the visitors being exposed when exiting, as they might have been had their chosen route taken them near hazardous materials and environments.

Project participants:
Steve Woolley, EHS compliance supervisor
Don Kendal, maintenance technician

Rathdrum Power Plant
Owned by Tyr Energy
Operated by NAES Corp
275-MW, gas-fired, 1 × 1 combined cycle located in Rathdrum, Idaho
Plant manager: Gary Allard