The Asia Industrial Gases Association (AIGA) held a safety seminar on dissolved acetylene in Taipei, Taiwan on 13th July 2009 in cooperation with the Taiwan High Pressure Gases Industrial Association (THPGIA), the Council of Labour Affairs, and the Safety and Health Technology Centre.

The one-day seminar was well attended by about 140 delegates from Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, and China, comprising both the gas producers and end-users, as well as regulatory and safety authorities from the local government.

Mr KUO Fong-Yu, Deputy Minister from the Council of Labour Affairs, provided an opening speech. He quoted and compared the figures of industrial incidents from the developed Western countries and Japan, the fatalities and the injuries in Taiwan, and said that he hoped the records in Taiwan could be further improved with time.

The Deputy Minister also urged everyone to work to improve the safety, “…contribution to the industrial safety is a merit…,” he said.

This was followed by a speech by Mr Allen Chien, President of Air Products San Fu Co. Ltd and Chairman of the Taiwan High Pressure Industrial Gas Industrial Association. Chien echoed the expectations of Kuo and noted how he would like the safety in Taiwan to be comparable with Japan and Western countries in the future.

A total of nine presentations were delivered, largely by four speakers, covering all aspects of the dissolved acetylene plants, including the disposal of dissolved acetylene cylinders.

Mr Vijay Kumar from Linde Gas Asia commented in his presentation, “Even though we have so many standards and regulations established over so many decades, there are still many incidents…all incidents that happened can be avoided…”

Mr Shang Hsiang, the Deputy Plant Manager of the Lin Yuan Plant of Yuan Rong Industrial Gases, shared his local experience of an acetylene cylinder fire in September 2005.

This was the first such acetylene cylinder fire and was quickly put under control. There were no injuries and only some properties were damaged.

Shang said that the relatively low cost of damage was due to the fact that they always organised drills of emergency responses. The proper fire fighting facilities in the plant were also a major factor too.

Meanwhile, Mr Daniel Tregear from the Packaged Gases Centre of Air Products Europe shared his experience in a different area of the acetylene industry. Tregear has worked with many production sites on risk assessment and plant safety audits.

He emphasised that this area of work requires experienced engineers working in the gases industry, to know what to look for. Tregear himself works with a list of engineering templates and audit checklists for all types of acetylene plants, which he has developed over the years.

He said he would be prepared to share this through AIGA if there is a request for it - Taiwan alone has around six plants using calcium carbide for the generation of acetylene.

A presentation on the Japan Industrial and Medical Gases Association (JIMGA)’s cylinder treatment and disposal facility concluded the day’s proceedings.

The facility centralises the disposal of acetylene cylinders with environmental protection and safety as the main emphasis, and is an interesting idea to be learnt by others.