The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB), has released a letter calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to review its existing Hydrofluoric Acid (HF) study, to determine the effectiveness of existing regulations as well as the viability of utilizing inherently safer alkylation technologies in petroleum refineries.
CSB Interim Executive Kristen Kulinowski said, “In the last 4 years, the CSB has investigated two refinery incidents where an explosion elevated the threat of a release of HF. Refinery workers and surrounding community residents are rightly concerned about the adequacy of the risk management for the use of hazardous chemicals like HF.”
Kulinowski added, “The EPA should review its 1993 HF study to ensure the health and safety of communities near petroleum refineries utilizing HF.”
HF is a highly toxic chemical that can seriously injure or cause death at a concentration of 30 parts per million (PPM), which is used in about fifty of the U.S.’s approximately 150 refineries, as well as many other industries.
In a refinery, the chemical is used as a catalyst in the creation of a blending agent for high octane gasoline. In both of its investigations, the CSB conducted a public hearing in which members of the surrounding communities expressed their concerns about the adequacy of the risk management strategies for the use of HF and the effectiveness of community notification procedures in the event of a catastrophic release.
Kulinowski said, “The EPA is the appropriate agency to assess the adequacy of risk management for the use of chemicals like HF. Refiners, their workforce and communities that surround the refineries need assurances that the risk plans are adequate to prevent a catastrophic release.”