Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) Programs Benefit from Visual Communications
Written by Jack Rubinger
Leaking valves, pumps, connectors, compressors and agitators - commonly found at thousands of refineries, chemical plants and hazardous waste facilities - can and do discharge volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants into the atmosphere. Raw material leaks pose serious environmental and safety hazards and impact plant productivity and profitability.
Leak detection and repair (LDAR) services, under the auspices of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other Federal, state and local requirements, are compulsory at chemical plants and refineries. Based on EPA statistics, the average-sized plant may have from 3,000 to 30,000 individual components that are monitored.
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This almost overwhelming situation is being managed in a variety of ways using a wide range of tools and resources including outsourced monitoring and compliance services, detection devices, software and training. The physical tagging of the valves, pumps, connectors, compressors and agitators can also be addressed through an assortment of approaches, including pre-printed aluminum tags.
DuraLabel, for example, offers LDAR specialists and plant managers who are responsible for locating, flagging, tagging and identifying each applicable component several benefits including the ability to print labels either on the go or from a desktop printer such as the DLP/300, Toro or DL 9000. Compliant warnings are easy to print on virtually any diameter pipe using pipe marking supplies that are resistant to harsh plant facility conditions including extreme heat and cold. Best of all, there's no waiting for tags and labels, so productivity remains high.
Petrochemical manufacturing facilities can contain thousands of pieces of regulated process equipment which may leak volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to the atmosphere. This equipment may be required to be tested for leaks several times each year, and additional information regarding leak repairs might be recorded. Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) programs are inherently risky, labor intensive and costly. Even minor errors in identifying, tagging and monitoring potential leak points throughout a facility can result in non-compliance and heavy fines. Workers in these facilities should wear personal protection equipment (PPE), including hard hats, steel toe boots and oil-resistant work gloves.
Repairs to leaks must be done quickly to avoid further damage while this updated data is collected using handheld devices and/or web-based data entry forms. No one wants to face costly facility shut downs for repairs and/or product or energy loss.
Experience has shown that facilities with an effective record of preventing leaks integrate an awareness of the benefits of leak detection and repair into their operating and maintenance program.