The operation of bulk supply involves many safety issues, especially when dealing with toxic fluids. As such, this was one of two main topics covered at a recent safety seminar held in Taipei.

The International Bulk Gas Safety Seminar was held on 1st September at the National Taipei University of Technology (NTUT) and was organised by the Council of Labour Affairs (CLA) of the Taiwan government and the Taiwan High Pressure Gases Industrial Association (THPGIA), and co-organised by the Asia Industrial Gases Association (AIGA) and NTUT.

More than 250 delegates from industrial gas companies, government departments, and industrial gas customers were present.

The seminar was started by an opening speech by Mr KUO Fong-Yu, Deputy Minister of the CLA. He told of the good news of changes at the CLA to be implemented next year – primarily to be upgraded to a ministry level and to extend their scope to all occupations, demonstrating that the government is putting more emphasis on occupational safety and health.

Regarding the seminar, he said, “I am convinced that the conclusions we have reached today will be beneficial to the industrial gas community and the Council of Labour Affairs.” He also cited the reduction of fatalities and injuries of the whole industry in Taiwan as a result of the continuing efforts of the CLA over the years.

The technical presentation began with a review of past incidents by Mr PK LAM, Head of SHEQ (Safety, Health, Environment and Quality), Greater China of Linde. With his 28 years of extensive experience in engineering projects, operation and SHEQ management, he shared with the delegates many accidents related to delivery vehicles and the reasons leading to the accidents. Based on the statistics of accidents, he explained that employees may lose their concentration during a major organisational change, as reflected from the acquisition of BOC by Linde in 2007, leading to more accidents compared with before and after. Therefore, concentration is key and more attention should be paid to safety management in such situations, it was suggested.

When Mr Stephen CHEN and Mr David CHIH of Linde Taiwan discussed the operational safety of hydrogen tube trailers, it was pointed out that two key concerns in hydrogen tube trailer transportation were rear-end collision and roll-over and these two types of accidents were covered by the Defensive Driving Training of The Linde Group.

Following the lunch break sponsored by the CLA, Dr. Heng ZHU of Praxair China started the afternoon session and compared the supply of ammonia from an ISO tank by liquid withdrawal, and vapour withdrawal and the key design and safety features of an ammonia ISO tank and supply system. In view of safety, he further showed a dispersion model and compared the release of ammonia from a liquid line and a vapour line – with the conclusion that the release from vapour line affects a smaller zone.

As Taiwan has a highly developed semiconductor industry, the use of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) is very common and Mr Cliff LIU of Air Products San Fu was invited to share his experience of the safe practice for NF3 ISO module tube trailers. Another subject covered by the seminar was the safe operational practice for unmanned air gas plants (generators). This was presented by Ms Kathy BRANDT, Operating Services Center (OSC) Manager, Americas, Air Products and Chemicals. She first introduced the EIGA/AIGA document on this subject and then explained the three phases of the evolution of the remote plant operating model and the best safety practices enabling remote operation.

The seminar was concluded by an outstanding presentation by Mr Henry LIU, Director of Safety, Quality, and Management System Department of Air Liquide Far Eastern. He discussed with the delegates the potential issues of supply of silane by ISO-tanks in Taiwan. Although the current amount of usage at customer sites is still small compared with an ISO tank, he foresees that in the near future the supply of silane to customers using ISO tanks would be required due to the fast development of the end-user industries.

In fact, imported ISO tanks are already used for transfilling to cylinders and drums and up to three new local silane manufacturers may supply in ISO modules. However, the safety regulations and requirements of iso-tank supply are not in place yet. Therefore, Henry initiated the discussion by referring to applicable international standards with special attention drawn on location, separation distances, pressure relief devices and other safety concerns.

Besides this international seminar, the CLA and THPGIA have also jointly held (in July) several safety seminars from the north to the south of the island to promote operation safety of several types of gases.