The explosion and subsequent fires at the petrochemical facility near Houston Texas reminds us of the dangers that exist when dealing with volatile material.
This facility, like so many others doesn’t just store flammable and/or combustible liquids, there’s a bit more involved, such as:
- Receiving the material by pipe, truck, rail or ship.
- Transferring the material into containers.
- Handling and possible mixing of materials.
- Storage of the materials.
- Distributing the material by pipe, truck, rail or ship.
Flammable and combustible liquids can burn. They are classified as either flammable or combustible by their flash points.
may ignite and burn at normal working temperatures.
may burn at higher temperatures above working temperatures.
Flammable and combustible liquids are present everywhere. Products such as fuel, solvents, thinners, cleaners, adhesives, paints, waxes and polishes may be flammable or combustible liquids. Everyone working with these liquids must be aware of their hazards and how to work safely with them.
Flashpoints, flammable or explosive limits and auto ignition
are key factors that may render them unstable.
The flashpoint of a liquid
is the lowest temperature at which the liquid gives off enough vapor to be ignited at the surface of the liquid. Flashpoints are intended to be used as guides only, not as fine lines between safe and unsafe.
Flammable or Explosive limits
relate to fire and explosion hazards. These limits give the range between the lowest and highest concentrations of vapor in air that will ignite, burn or explode.
The guide for lower flammable limit or lower explosive limit (LFL or LEL) and the guide for upper flammable limit or upper explosive limit (UFL or UEL). Flammable limits, like flashpoints however, are intended as guides not as fine lines between safe and unsafe.