A major property insurance broker cites 16 petrochemical and chemical losses of greater than $150,000,000 during the period of 1970 to 1999. Of these, 7 were VCE incidents, 6 were other types of explosions, 2 were hurricane related, and 1 was earthquake related. One of the lessons learned is to consider facility siting issues for both inside and outside the plant boundary. (Marsh, 2001)
Facility siting and layout is a process for finding an optimal location for a chemical or petroleum processing site and then arranging the units and equipment. They are related to how to select a site, how to recognize and assess long-term risks, and how to lay out the facilities and equipment within that site. Appropriate siting and layout establishes a foundation for a safe and secure site. A site that is well laid out will have a lower risk level than a poorly laid out site. The potential for toxic impacts, fire escalation, and explosion damage will be lower. The risk to personnel and the surrounding community will be reduced. Additionally, maintenance will be easier and safer to perform. However, these benefits do not come without associated costs. Separation distances translate to real estate that costs money. Tradeoffs between initial capital investment, life cycle costs, and risk reduction are inherent in siting and layout decisions.
The center’s research on Facility siting and layout include:
Facility layout optimization based on risk analysis
The purpose of this research is combining optimization concepts and safety concepts in a facility layout. The objective function is the sum of costs for land, piping, managing, protection devices and safety (risk). Based on real meteorological data and various hazardous facilities which have flammable materials, optimal separation distances and directions will be obtained.
Mitigation system study
In order to mitigate the consequences caused from toxic gas releases, various mitigation systems such as water, air, and steam curtain are used, but research on physical behaviors have not been sufficiently studied. Research topics to understand the behaviors and using the result for better facility siting for toxic gas release scenarios are below.