How to Maintain a Process Safety System

The Bhopal disaster, in which hundreds of thousands of people were unknowingly affected by a gas leak outside the factory premises, has become a learning lesson. Chemical and petrochemical industries today have become more conscious about keeping a process safety system in place.

Albert Einstein once said “The concern for man himself and his safety must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations.” People remembered his discoveries, but probably forgot his fears. Sadly, it took an incident like the Bhopal disaster and thousands of lives, for engineering professional experts to realize that a ‘change’ was required...

Even today, the catastrophe of 1984 is widely recognized as one of the world’s worst industrial catastrophes ever: Water ingress into a storage tank for methyl isocyanate caused a massive chemical reaction and consequent over-pressurization and release of isocyanatomethane gas and other toxic chemicals from the plant. Several thousand residents of a nearby city were killed and up to hundreds of thousands suffered from long-term consequences. Officials reports and investigations showed that basic safety measures had been neglected to cut costs at the loss making site.

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