Petrochemical industry is the industry thatgenerates petroleum fractions from petroleum. Some of the chemical reactionsinvolved in the petrochemical industry tend to release toxic gases.
Improperhandling of toxic chemicals could result in the spread of diseases or evendeath. Petrochemicals plants that are placed in residential areas could causedanger to the general public if an accident were to happen (Tseng et al. 2012). Thus, the location atwhich a petrochemical plant would be placed needs to be appropriate with itssurroundings. Inthe 19th century, chemical plant locations were affected by accessto raw materials, water supply, transportation and closeness to customers.These factors were mainly related to the survival of the production process.However, many laws and regulations have been established to ensure the plant disposeof waste in the proper manner.
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One of the ways in which toxic gases are usuallydisposed of is by subjecting the toxic gas to a scrubber before being releasedto the atmosphere (2016). Toxic gases become flammable when they areincinerated at high temperature. Apetrochemical plant should be located away from residential areas. This is toreduce the possible number of fatalities in case of an explosion or toxicrelease. Buildings with occupants that are located outside the fence of theplant should be located upwind the plant as the release of toxic gas followsthe wind direction. Hence, occupants upwind the plants have a lower tendency ofbeing affected by the release of toxic gases. Besides being located downwind ofoccupied buildings, storage tanks that contain toxic chemicals need to beplaced in open areas to allow natural dissipation in case of minor leaks(Health and Safety Executive). Oneexample of explosion caused by chemical release is the Phillips 66 polyethyleneplant at Pasadena, USA.
The pipeline carrying flammable vapour failed causingthe high pressure fluid to create a large explosive cloud within seconds afterleakage. A total of 23 fatalities and 100 injuries were reported. The chief ofthe Pasadena Fire Department who was 1 mile away from the plant at the time ofthe incident felt that his own facility blew up as a result of the explosion. Thedebris following the explosion was spotted as far as 6 miles away from theplant. This goes to show that buildings outside the plant should be located atleast 6 miles away from the plant. Anotherimportant criterion in determining the location of a petrochemical plant is theability to manufacture tall chimneys. Plant locations should be away from theflight airspace to ensure that tall chimneys can be built.
The wind velocity atthe top of chimney is higher than at ground level (Gupta 2005). This indeedenables the toxic release to be diluted with air to levels below the thresholdlimit value (TLV) as dilution is effective at high wind velocity (Gupta 2005).TLV is the exposure limit at which a worker can be exposed per day.
Thus thetoxic release would be diluted by the time it reaches ground level. Inconclusion, the release of toxic gases in large amount could result in fatalincidents to mankind. The most important part in the development of apetrochemical plant is the location of the plant itself. Toxic gases arepoisonous gases and should not be exposed into the environment. Thus, the mainchoice in locating a plant is that it should be located away from residentialareas and occupied buildings should be upwind the plant.
In addition, plantsshould be built in locations whereby chimneys can be placed so as to enhancethe dilution of toxic gases. By taking these factors into consideration, theseverity of any accident can be reduced.