03/03/2015: Safety alert – liquified petroleum gas

The Coast Guard issued safety alert 03-15 as a reminder to all gas carrier owners and operators of the importance of ensuring all personnel follow approved safety management system cargo handling procedures and industry best practices.

Recently, the Coast Guard investigated a fire that occurred in a cargo compressor room onboard a foreign flagged Liquefied Petroleum Gas, or LPG, Carrier. Investigators suspect that unsafe cargo handling procedures associated with manual draining of hydrates from the drain line on the outlet of re-liquefaction condensers directly contributed to this casualty.

There were also other concerns identified during this investigation. The following additional concerns focus primarily on procedures that existed or were absent prior to the incident: an emergency system left in the manual mode prevented remote activation; senior organizational personnel for the operator and facility were not informed of the hydrate situations; procedures for taking actions when gas alarms sounded were not followed; and gas detection devices were not properly calibrated.

As a result of this casualty, the Coast Guard strongly recommends:

  • Senior shore side operating company personnel provide extensive technical support when a vessel is required to load cargo at higher temperatures and when substantial hydrates quantities are known to be contained within;
  • Shipboard Safety Management Systems and Operational Manuals be inclusive of all procedures to be expected and performed onboard. In the incident under investigation a procedure for removal of hydrates was unavailable;
  • Such procedures, when they are developed, implemented, and performed should align with industry best practices and all changes to the documented procedures should be vetted through the associated parties for approval ensuring notification takes place as required;
  • Routine and frequent training of shipboard officers and crew based on documented procedures for vessels transporting dangerous cargos should take place on a regular basis and cover such topics as;
    • The safety risk of releasing LPG in open and enclosed spaces;
    • Proper methods to acknowledge and investigate gas detection alarms regardless of location; (Including making proper notifications to responsible parties)
    • Ensuring that all ventilation systems are functioning as designed with no conditionshindering its effectiveness such as open doors or obstructions;
    • Methods to inspect and identify leaks throughout the cargo system, and correctiveactions to take when leaks are identified;
    • Ways to manage and minimize the negative effects of hydrates throughout the entirecargo system;
    • Methods to reduce static electricity as found in the National Fire ProtectionAssociation (NFPA) 77.


View the entire marine safety alert for more detials.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

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