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A repeat near miss

By Chemical Engineering |

It is with extreme reticence that I author this page, even though I received permission several months ago to do so. FRI had a near miss in 2010, which was identical to a near miss that occurred in 2007. In the safety world, such things should never happen. In 2007, FRI was running butanes in its high-pressure test column. A gasket blew, releasing butanes to the atmosphere; the butanes did not ignite. Shortly thereafter, one FRI employee sent an email with six brief questions to another FRI employee. The second employee responded with six brief answers. That was the full extent of the investigation and documentation. Following that incident, a certain mythology developed around it. For many months after the incident, staff members referred to a “window failure” as the cause of the release. In fact, the cause of the release was a gasket failure. Virgin Teflon gaskets had been supplied inappropriately by a vendor. In November of 2010, there was another butanes release from the high-pressure test column. All of the appropriate government agencies were informed immediately. An investigation was initiated immediately. It took several months, but it was ultimately determined that the exact same vendor had supplied the exact…
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