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Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 03:02 PM gHale

Trinity Highway Products’ Orangeburg, SC, plant was damaged when an acid explosion caused a fire Sunday night. There were no reports of injuries.

Workers mixing acid caused an explosion and fire at the Trinity Highway Products plant Sunday night.

The top of the structure was ablaze at 8:20 p.m. when firefighters arrived at 600 Prosperity Drive in the Orangeburg County, SC, Industrial Park.

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“We had to hit it quick or we were going to lose it,” said Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Lt. Anthony Robinson.

It took almost two hours before the firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze. They used foam to fight the fire.

As a precaution, officials evacuated local plants within a half-mile radius of Trinity Highway Products during the fire.

No one was injured in the incident.

On the positive side, Robinson said the building is not a total loss. However, there was significant damage.

“Only one employee was on site at the time,” said Trinity Highway Products spokesman Jack Todd. “The cause of the fire is under investigation.”

The fire occurred when, “(workers) were mixing something and something exploded,” Robinson said.

“There were two big vats full of acid and some water,” Robinson said.

Firefighters responded to the scene from the Orangeburg County Fire District and the Rowesville, Cattle Creek, Jamison, Branchville and Canaan fire departments.

In addition, the Orangeburg County Office of Emergency Services and Orangeburg County Emergency Medical Services responded.

Hazardous materials teams from Orangeburg County and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control inspected the area to ensure the acid and any other chemicals were contained to the site of the fire.

HazMat crews also conducted air surveys.

“Nothing actively was released other than the smoke,” Robinson said.

The Orangeburg facility employs 56 people making highway guardrails and component parts, plus safety end treatments, according to the Orangeburg County Development Commission website.

Trinity Highway Products LLC., headquartered in Dallas, TX, is a manufacturer of highway guardrails, guardrail end treatments, temporary and permanent crash cushions, truck-mounted attenuators and cable barrier systems.

Monday, February 12, 2018 @ 09:02 AM gHale

By Gregory Hale
It is so easy to point fingers. “You did it, no, you did it.” “Someone else did it, not me.”

Looking at the attack on Schneider Electric’s Triconex safety system that occurred last August but was just revealed in December, it would be very easy to point a finger at the end user, or at the supplier, or the integrator. In reality, though, the finger needs to point directly at the manufacturing automation industry. The entire industry.

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In that August attack, a Middle East critical infrastructure user suffered a shutdown of its facility and the controllers of a targeted Triconex safety system failed safe. During an initial investigation security professionals noticed there were some suspicious things going on and that is when they found the malware. The safety instrumented system (SIS) engineering workstation was compromised and had the Triton (also called Trisis and HatMan) malware deployed on it. The distributed control system (DCS) was also compromised. It is possible to envision an attack where the bad guy had the ability to manipulate the DCS while reprogramming the SIS controllers.

You can’t walk away from this. Forget that a safety system was attacked. This was a potential cyberattack that meant harm. In this day of heightened awareness of cybersecurity issues, it really looks like the industry was asleep at the wheel on this.

It appears, through reading reports and talking to informed sources, this was a very preventable attack. With malware sitting on the system for a long period of time, users, suppliers, integrators, executives, engineers, operators, in short, everyone, needed to know security, like safety, is everybody’ business.

Security Leads to Safety
Applying a contemporary case in point toward a security and safety incident, the law requires an auto manufacturer to build a car with safety belts, but to get the most benefit the driver and passengers have to use them. By wearing that safety belt, you are protecting yourself and are about 90 percent protected. In most cases, that is more than enough to get you through the day.

But what happens in a terrorist environment? How safe is that car if a terrorist pulls up next to you? In that case, software and technology may not be the answer. People must remain aware of the environment and act accordingly. Are you aware of your surroundings? Do you understand the context of the area you are traveling through?

The industry needs to understand and come to grips with that type of context because the open architecture, fully connected world we work in, can be a very lucrative, fast-paced environment, but also a very dangerous place.

Domino Affect
This assault on a safety system, had all the markings of a perfect storm, with a physical attack, on top of a cyber incident.

This was not a fly by night operation, this was a targeted attack going for a specific Triconex system and version, which means the attackers had knowledge of the industrial control environment. Just look at the capability of the attacks that have taken place over the past few years. This isn’t about competition, it is about protecting users from cyber assaults. Let’s face it, no one person, company or organization, can tackle this issue alone.

The industry needs an agnostic supplier/end user/integrator-based forum, or consortium, to come together, not to create a standard, which would take way too much time, but to understand the intensity of the threat and then help create a culture where everyone knows security is a part of his or her everyday job.

Positive from Negative
Covering the safety and security industry specifically for almost eight years has shown people will end up activated and motivated when a negative act occurs. The refrain repeatedly heard was the industry will become more security conscious if something bad happens. They would say safety didn’t really come into full play until the December, 1984, Bhopal, India, incident that left 3,787 dead and well over 500,000 injured.

Then, and only then, safety was front and center for the industry and it became a strong focus for all manufacturers.

This cyber attack on the Middle East user, while thwarted by the safety system, was not an exercise. Ill intent was intended. The safety system and the distributed control system suffered compromise. Both systems; both compromised.

It would be easy to say the safety system did its job, no big deal, let’s move on with producing product. The problem is, this attack was a big deal.

This was an unprecedented incident. Normally, when an attack happens, there is a vast silence. The discussion needs to change to saying something happened, let’s scream from the mountain top and let everyone know. These geo-political attacks using ICS infrastructure will continue. In this case, much like Stuxnet was not a Siemens issue, this was not a Schneider Electric problem, it was (and is) an industry problem.

We need a holistic look at security to protect all vendors of systems at a facility and we need an open conversation, not giving away proprietary details, but understanding the importance and ensuring a safe and secure manufacturing experience.

Let’s get started.
Gregory Hale is the Editor/Founder of Industrial Safety and Security Source (ISSSource.com).

Thursday, February 8, 2018 @ 03:02 PM gHale

A fire sprinkler system minimized damage to medical device maker in Santa Ana, CA, after a fire of unknown origin broke out Sunday night, fire officials said.

“It’s a great example of fire sprinklers doing their job,” said Capt. Larry Kurtz, spokesman for the Orange County Fire Authority. “This could have been a much bigger problem.”

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The fire was reported at Orchid Orthopedics in the 3200 block of West Harvard Street after an automatic alarm sounded, Kurtz said. Four employees got out of the building safely, and the fire sprinklers kept the fire in check until firefighters from OCFA and Fountain Valley Fire Department arrived, officials said.

Thirty-two firefighters responded to the alarm, including a hazardous-materials team sent inside to check the premises for chemicals and see if there was any spillage, Kurtz said.

There were no injuries in the incident, Kurtz said. The business, which makes orthopedic implants, sustained smoke damage, minor damage to equipment and minor damage to the building, he said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Friday, February 2, 2018 @ 01:02 PM gHale

A warehouse that houses a rubber manufacturer and an automotive fuel additives company in Sandy, UT, was a “total loss” after it was entirely engulfed in flames Sunday night, officials said.

Fire crews first responded to the blaze at 547 W. 9320 South at 8 p.m. Sunday and called for more assistance when they saw a “heavy black column of smoke” billowing from the building, said Sandy Deputy Fire Chief Derek Maxfield.

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Two businesses are listed at the address: Boost Performance Products, an automotive fuel and additives company and South Valley Specialties, a rubber manufacturing and distribution company.

When crews arrived, possible explosions sent firefighters into a “defensive position,” Maxfield said, while they worked to bring the fire under control.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation late Sunday.

“We don’t know at this time what started the fire or what the cause is,” Maxfield said. “We’ll have investigators here through the night combing through all of this and trying to determine an exact cause.”

The company owner told fire crews all employees left the building earlier Sunday before the fire, Maxfield said. There were no injuries reported in the blaze.

The building, however, is a “total loss,” Maxfield said.

Friday, February 2, 2018 @ 01:02 PM gHale

Flames light up the night sky at Armur Powdercoating and Sandblasting after a fire broke out.

Several crews worked to put out a large industrial fire at a powdercoating manufacturer in West Eugene, OR, Saturday.

The call came in at about 5:40 a.m. for a structure fire off Royal Avenue and Greenhill Road where huge billows of smoke wafted into the sky.

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Fire crews said it took them about an hour to put out the fire. The fire happened at Armur Powdercoating and Sandblasting shortly after 5 a.m. 

The building is used for welding, sand-blasting and powder coating, said Markus Lay, a Batallion Chief with Eugene-Springfield fire.

Crews said it was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived.

They said the metals involved due to the nature of the business made firefighting efforts challenging. 

“It’s an industrial manufacturing facility so it’s a more dangerous place just to work when it’s operating like it’s supposed to,” Lay said. “When it’s on fire and it’s dark out and you are unfamiliar with it, you have all those hazards.”

Lay said there was a 1,000 gallon propane tank just north of the building. He said fire crews were able to put out the fire before it reached that tank.

Fire crews were also able to protect the call tower and primary residence, which were both threatened by the fire. 

Lay said other challenges they faced while trying to put out the fire was limited access to water hydrants. The nearest one was half a mile away.  

Fire crews said most of the damages happened in the processing building and the business office.

Firefighters said there will be smoldering spots at the site over the next couple of days.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 @ 11:01 AM gHale

An initial report found an uncontrolled release of gas appeared to be the cause of the Jan. 22 explosion of an Oklahoma drilling rig.

An uncontrolled release of gas caught fire at an Oklahoma gas rig while a worker at the scene tried to shut down the well which killed five workers Jan. 22.

Those were the initial findings in an incident report filed right after the Jan. 22 blast.

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The initial incident report into the explosion indicates there was an uncontrolled release of gas that caught fire and that a worker at the scene tried unsuccessfully to shut down the well.

The report, released Jan. 23 by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates oil and gas operations in the state, is just an initial assessment, said agency spokesman Matt Skinner.

“The investigation is ongoing, and there will undoubtedly be more added to the report,” Skinner said.

The report came out after officials recovered the remains of five gas rig workers who had been missing since a fiery explosion in eastern Oklahoma a day earlier.

Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris said once the natural gas drilling rig was stabilized following the blast and subsequent fires, employees from the state medical examiner’s office went into the wreckage and recovered the bodies in about two hours.

“The bodies were located in the area where they were presumed to be working in, what they call the ‘dog house,'” Morris said, referring to a room on the rig floor that generally serves as an office for the drilling crew.

He said state and federal investigators will work with the companies involved to determine how the blast occurred.

The workers who were killed include three from Oklahoma, Matt Smith of McAlester, Parker Waldridge of Crescent and Roger Cunningham from Seminole – and two from other states, Josh Ray of Fort Worth, TX; and Cody Risk of Wellington, CO.

Three of the workers were employed by Houston-based Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. Company President and Chief Executive Andy Hendricks pledged a full investigation into the explosion.

“We want to learn from this,” Hendricks said. “We don’t want this to happen again for anybody in our industry.”

The explosion at the drilling site near Quinton sent plumes of black smoke into the air and left a derrick crumpled on the ground. For much of the day of the blast, emergency officials were unable to get near the rig because the fire was still burning. The fire was extinguished later on that night.

Authorities said 16 people who were on the site at the time of the blast escaped without major injuries. One person was airlifted to a hospital.

The explosion is setback to Patterson-UTI’s efforts to repair what was one of the worst safety records in the industry. During the 2000s, Patterson-UTI had more fatalities at its worksite than any other U.S. energy company. One report found 12 workers died at the company’s Texas drilling sites from 2003 through 2007.

The accidents didn’t cease after the report, although they’ve been less frequent, according to records from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). One worker was crushed in November 2010 at a rig site southwest of San Antonio near Cotulla. In August 2011, there was another fatality at a Patterson rig near Carrizo Springs.

In April 2012, a worker in South Texas’ Eagle Ford shale fell 50 feet to his death from a Patterson rig, which federal inspectors later noted had “excess crude oil or oil-based liquids visible on the beams.” Last year, in August, there was a fatal accident at a Patterson-UTI rig site near Rankin in West Texas.

Hendricks, who joined Patterson-UTI as CEO in 2012, said the company has worked hard to improve safety, spending about $150 million in the last decade on safety training and equipment upgrades. Every worker has “stop work” authority to halt activity if they believe safety is at risk, he said.

“Certainly, for me and the leadership we have today, safety is the top priority,” Hendricks said, declining to comment much on the company’s previous safety record. “There have been cases in the past, but I think the record shows – certainly in the last few years – we’ve been one of the safest companies in the industry.”

The Oklahoma well was operated by Red Mountain, a small Oklahoma production company. The rig worked at the well for about 10 days and drilled 13,500 feet underground – roughly 2.5 miles – when the explosion occurred, said Red Mountain Chief Executive Tony Say.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 05:01 PM gHale

Combustible dust was a contributing factor in the May 31 explosion that killed five people at Didion Milling in Cambria, WI, a federal official said.

Although the federal Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has not yet completed its report from months of inspections at the site of explosion, lead investigator Mary Beth Mulcahy said one of the likely results of the Didion investigation is establishing best practices, and suggestions for regulations, that would be intended to help industries become aware of the dangers of combustible dust, and how to alleviate them.

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The May 31 explosion killed five workers and injured 12 others, including a 21-year-old employee who suffered a double leg amputation.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigators found in December the explosion likely resulted from Didion’s failures to correct the leakage and accumulation of highly combustible grain dust throughout the Cambria, WI, facility and to properly maintain equipment to control ignition sources.

The CSB is investigating the incident as are the Wisconsin State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) levied more than $1.8 million in penalties for fire safety shortfalls at Didion and the company is appealing those fines.

By interviewing witnesses, inspecting the damaged building and its heavy equipment, and constructing a computer model of how the explosion is likely to have occurred, investigators with the CSB will increase their understanding of a hazard that is far more common in industry than many people realize, Mulcahy said.

“We want to learn,” she said, “what causes safety hazards, and what are the larger safety concerns. We try to understand why an incident happened (and) what we can do to prevent similar incidents. But we don’t oversee construction of plants. That’s the role of regulators.”

Cambria Fire Chief Cody Doucette said earlier this month that neither he nor state and federal investigators have definitively determined what caused the deadly late-night explosion. Furthermore, Doucette said, that determination may not be made for a long time.

“We may not hear for a year or more,” he said. “We’re still waiting.”

Mulcahy said she, too, is in no position yet to state the CSB’s findings about the Didion explosion, because those findings are still being compiled.

Combustible dust is likely a contributing factor and the hazard is not confined to corn milling or other aspects of the grain processing industry.

Mulcahy said one of the things CSB investigators want to determine, in Didion’s case, is exactly how powerful the explosion was, where it originated and the path it may have traveled. The damaged building and equipment provide key evidence, she said, that can be used to create a computer model.

The last time investigators of the agency were in Cambria, Mulcahy said, was around Thanksgiving.

They went in to the structure only when it was determined to be safe, she said, and at times examined heavy equipment after it was brought out of the plant, sometimes by moving it with a forklift.

Hilary Cohen, spokeswoman for the CSB, said the board’s “factual update” on the Cambria explosion will be presented “soon,” in Cambria and in public. However, she said the findings are not likely to be ready by the time the Village Board meets in early February.

Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 03:01 PM gHale

BASF opened a state-of-the-art control room equipped with Honeywell Process Solutions’ (HPS) Experion technology at its waste incineration complex in Ludwigshafen, Germany.

The control room was officially inaugurated on November 28 by Dr. Uwe Liebelt, president, BASF European Site and Verbund Management, and Vimal Kapur, president of HPS.

Honeywell re-designed the plant’s control room with BASF’s Industrie 4.0 initiative in mind. Virtualization technology delivers consolidated plant information to operators via eight large-screen Experion Orion Consoles, which also embed traditionally separate Microsoft Office desktop applications alongside the distributed control system one. Two Experion Collaboration Stations enable BASF to run production meetings more efficiently by using real-time data and online documents.

As part of Honeywell’s Experion Process Knowledge System, 29 C300 Controllers and 20,000 I/O modules facilitate plant-wide monitoring, improve safety and fire protection, and increase reliability. In addition, a new MediluX lighting system in the control room improves visual conditions for operators day and night, reducing eye strain and fatigue.

“This strategic project is a prime example of how Industrie 4.0 is transforming industrial operations,” Kapur said. “Previously, BASF operators had to gather and piece together data to form a high-level view. Now, critical information is digitally consolidated and streamed onto central displays, transforming efficiency, productivity and decision-making.”

The plant’s six incinerators process hazardous waste that cannot be reused or recycled and convert it into steam and electrical power. The clean, reusable energy is channeled back into BASF’s production processes, helping the company save resources and reduce emissions.

“Thanks to excellent cooperation with Honeywell, our 60-year-old plant now has one of the most modern control rooms in the world,” said Dr. Karin Flore, head of waste incineration, BASF. 

The incineration plant serves more than 200 BASF production facilities within the company’s flagship,10-square-kilometer production site as well as facilities outside the BASF complex. The reliability of the plant is critical to BASF’s wider production operations because any standstill could potentially affect the world’s largest chemical complex as a whole.

Monday, January 15, 2018 @ 05:01 PM gHale

Confusion reigns supreme as no one seems to know how more than 1,000 gallons of oil from the Norfolk Southern deButts Yard ended up in Citico Creek and the Tennessee River.

An oil spill Monday night dumped the oil into the creek, leading emergency responders to flock to the area to contain the spill. Officials point to Norfolk Southern as the culprit, and a Norfolk spokeswoman said the company believes it may be responsible for the incident.

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“We are still investigating the cause of the release,” company spokeswoman Susan Terpay said. “I will update you with more information as soon as it is available.”

Meanwhile, the portion of the Tennessee Riverwalk that was closed during the investigation has reopened.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) is leading the investigation and its investigators believe the oil came from a retention pond on the property, according to TDEC Deputy Communications Director Kim Schofinski.

The agency is conducting an investigation into the incident and will issue a report on its findings.

The Environmental Protection Agency sent a coordinator to the scene at the request of TDEC to assist. The city’s role in the cleanup, which included initial response and work to contain the oil, is complete, according to fire department public information officer Bruce Garner.

The spill could have a significant impact on the ecosystem, said Tennessee Aquarium aquatic conservation biologist Bernie Kuhajda.

The oil mostly sits on the top of the water, allowing multiple animal species including fish, birds and turtles to come in direct contact with the oil.

Norfolk Southern is taking significant steps to ensure the incident is contained as much as possible and appropriately cleaned, Terpay said.

“We had 120 contractors and environmental specialists working along Citico Creek and the Tennessee River [Thursday] collecting and removing the oil-water mix from the waters,” she said. “On the Tennessee River we used on water booming to assist in the recovery and continued recovery operations at Citico Creek, as well as clearing debris and other land cleanup efforts.”

Friday, January 12, 2018 @ 01:01 PM gHale

Crews worked through the night Wednesday to put out a large fire at a recycling facility in Des Plaines, IL, a suburb of Chicago.

No injuries were reported following the fire that started late Wednesday.

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When fire crews arrived at the scene, they found flames roaring out of the roof of the facility and the fire quickly spread.

In addition, there were explosions at the Maine Scrap Metal facility as the fire burned and chemicals inside the building fed the fire.

Additional crews from at least five nearby departments ended up responding to help fight the fire late Wednesday and into early Thursday morning.

The fire was mostly extinguished later on Thursday morning, but Dyer says at least half of the facility ended up destroyed.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.