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Safety measures in the BLABO® tank cleaning system and process

Oreco never compromises on safety in developing its systems. It is our mission to provide the safest, most environmental-friendly tank cleaning system in the world and we constantly develop new features that ensures even safer operation of our systems. 

The safety measures in the BLABO® system are not only limited to the design and construction of the system, but also deals with the tank cleaning process and personal safety.The below safety description does not cover all the health, safety and environmental-friendly initiatives that have been found necessary during the risk assessments, but gives you an idea of our dedication to HSE. 

Potentially hazardous zones

Complying with standard and directives like ATEX, CSA and UL
The BLABO® system is constructed to operate safely in potentially hazardous zones where flammable atmospheres may occur. The BLABO® system meets the highest international safety standards and directives, e.g. ATEX in Europe, UL in the USA, CSA in Canada - or other international standards upon request. During operation the BLABO® process modules and other auxiliary equipment are placed on the tank cleaning site in accordance with prevailing directives on potentially hazardous zones. Click to see how the ATEX zones convert into US and Canadian classifications

Cold tapping

SafeTap® - Cold tapping tool
The SafeTap® is mechanical equipment for cold tapping holes in tank roofs before installing tank cleaning nozzles. The SafeTap® is designed in accordance with the European standard EN 1343-1 (Non electrical equipment for potentially explosive atmospheres – Part 1: Basic method and requirements). It has been certified by a notified body as category I equipment and every produced SafeTap® are tested and approved by a notified body. Ignition preventative measures of the SafeTap® include using ‘spark reducing material’ in the construction of the tool, temperature control facility and limitation of the speed of moving parts.

Tank cleaning nozzle

Tank cleaning nozzles
The Single Nozzle Sweepers (SNS®) are certified in accordance with ATEX directive 94/9/EC as a category I equipment and are safe for use in potentially explosive atmosphere. The SNS® have been constructed, risk assessed, tested and approved by a notified body after the same strict procedures and standards as the SafeTap®.

Tank-blanketing

Tank inerting
Inerting of the tank before cleaning the tank is done to prevent the risk of igniting gases inside the tank during the tank cleaning. The key parameter is to maintain an oxygen level below 8% by volume inside the tank. Tank blanketing with an inert gas is a very viable and safe way to prevent costly accidents, and is an integral part of the Oreco tank cleaning process. Nitrogen is an effective and inexpensive inert gas that can be employed for this purpose. It is produced by a generator placed in the safe area. Oreco’s nitrogen generator, the NitroGen®, produces nitrogen of the highest quality to ensure safe operation.

BLABO® constructional and process safety

Piping
Piping does not fall within the ATEX directive 94/9 because they do not have an own potentially ignition source. However, the user has to ensure that the piping is safely earthed to prevent electro static discharge. The BLABO® system is supplied with Victaulic piping and couplings that can be fitted with clams between each pipe to ensure 100% conductivity.

Pressure piping
All pressure piping is constructed in accordance with the European directive 97/23/EC for pressurized equipment for optimal safety. Fulfilment of this directive includes among other a non destructive test of 10% of all the welding performed by a notified body in accordance with standard EN 13480-4. All pressure piping, valves and fittings are supplied with a unique tracking number and material certificates for optimal personal and environment safety.

Electrical panels
The electrical panels are protected either by pressurisation (the so-called EEx “p”) using a slight overpressure to prevent flammable gasses from entering into the panels, or by flameproof enclosure (the so-called EEx “d”) preventing any explosion inside the panel from spreading to the outside. All other components outside the panels are explosion proof in compliance with potentially hazardous zone requirements.

Gas detectors
The gas detection devices are from Dräger and are all approved as at least category II equipment and fulfil the requirements in the standards EN 50057 and EN 50058. Gas detectors are installed inside the Re-circulation and Separation modules to warn the operators in case of a gas leak.

Temperature
It is at times necessary to utilize high temperature liquids during the desludging process. The pipes, valves and flange connections, where the heated liquids run through, can reach temperatures of up to 80º C. To protect the tank cleaning operators from hot surfaces, these items are insulated with either glass wool or mineral wool and covered with an aluminium hood. The effectiveness of the insulation allows for a calculated liquid temperature of 90º C and a steam temperature at 150º C without the surface temperature to exceed 55º C.

All moving parts
All moving parts are protected by covers that cannot be opened without tools. This is to protect the operators from injuries. The covers are fitted where it is has been found necessary during the risk assessment in compliance with the European directive for machinery safety 98/37/EC.

Electrical equipment
All electrical equipment installed in the BLABO® modules are as a minimum Zone 1 approved and is constructed in accordance with standard EN 50014 (General requirement for electrical apparatus in potential explosive atmosphere).

Monitoring and Auto-shut down
Continuous monitoring of the process and automatic shutdown features are integral parts of the BLABO® system and keeps the process safe. Built-in warning systems for hydrocarbon vapours minimises exposure to hazardous substances. The oxygen level in the tank is continuously monitored to ensure that it is below 8% (or a lower level if desired). The operators can easily monitor the oxygen level on the touch screen in the Re-circulation module. The BLABO® system will automatically shut down the process if the oxygen level exceeds 8%.

Human health and safety

Closed loop
The BLABO® tank cleaning process is a so called “closed loop” process. This means that the media, used for cleaning the tank, runs in closed circuits from the tank to the different BLABO® modules and back again to the tank or to a secondary piping system. In this way, operators never get into contract with the media inside the tank and consequently have less contact with toxic and flammable liquids. The result is that fewer hazardous situations can occur. Also, this greatly benefits the environment as no emissions escape to the atmosphere.

Non-man entry
The most important aspect of 'personal safety' offered by the BLABO® system is the fact that it is a 'non-man entry system'. Hence, no personnel will be present inside the tank during the cleaning process. This aspect alone ensures that the highest risk for a tank explosion is eliminated as safety negligence by personnel is the highest risk of accidents. Also, many people inside a tank, using different equipment, scaffolding etc. pose a higher risk of sparks. This is also eliminated by using a non-man entry system.

Other personal safety and health issues
Personal safety is closely related to the non-man entry method described above but there are also a number of health problems that the BLABO® system addresses and eliminates:

  • No staff is exposed to toxic or carcinogenic substances.
  • No respiratory problems or oxygen deficiency caused by working inside tanks. 
  • No injuries caused by falls, inadequate lighting or structural tank failure.
  • Containers are equipped with gas detectors.
  • Insulated pipes, valves and flanges.
  • Etc.

Training
For both personal and operational safety reasons, operating personnel attend thorough training from Oreco in running the BLABO® system. The biggest cause for accidents and hazardous situations are caused by humans. Even the safest equipment can not eliminate human safety negligence, but the Oreco procedures ensure that operators receive comprehensive training in safety procedures.

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