Environmental Chemical Air Monitoring Assists a Midstream Client with their Emergency Response

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An oil production company experienced a leak that sent crude oil downstream into the property of a midstream client of PROtect. The crude oil impacted our client’s property and operations.

Even though the spill was not their fault or their product, they responded with their containment and clean-up operations. They gathered their emergency management team, local operators, and contractors to address the problem.

They recognized that the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the crude oil, including benzene, could pose a serious hazard to the onsite personnel, so they asked PROtect to provide onsite support.

We got to work performing a hazard assessment and air monitoring using a RAE Systems Photoionization Detector (PID), a personal 4-gas monitor, and a separate H2S monitor.  The PID allows for not only total VOC results but also benzene readings based on applying correction factors. The results allow the responders to get an idea of the extent of airborne gasses and vapors, and the PPE requirements for the response.

Upon arrival, we recognized multiple hazards related not only to the crude oil but to the operation of contractor equipment onsite. Hazards that were identified and corrected included:

  • Elevated carbon monoxide levels from portable generators and idling vehicles positioned too close to the work areas.
  • Elevated and highly variable benzene levels that fluctuated with wind speed, direction, and temperature throughout the day and evening.
  • Contract employees conducting operations near the water with inadequate personal flotation devices.
  • Restricted egress in areas with steep creek banks and elevated VOC levels
  • Potentially flammable mixtures and inhalation hazards due to unfiltered exhaust from vacuum trucks settling in low-lying areas.

The Result

By partnering with the client’s safety manager and the emergency response team, PROtect was able to quickly enhance the onsite safety plan which reduced significant hazards. Because of our accurate gas detection instrumentation, the knowledge of how, when, and where to apply it, and a thorough hazard assessment enabled our client to confidently, and safely, proceed with their response.

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