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Swimming Robot to Inspect Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant

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fukushima nuclear power plant

Fukushima -- A robot named "Little Sunfish" will be sent into the Fukushima nuclear power plant to collect information and inspect the space.

At this point, no machine has ever made it back from the highly contaminated reactors.  Several Japanese investigators have sent robots to inspect the contaminated area before, but the robots have either broken or the mission was cancelled.  In February, a clean-up robot broke after 2 hours of being in the inactive Reactor 2 at the nuclear complex.

The plan for Little Sunfish is for it to swim into the melted reactor, avoid obstacles, and collect information.

In case you've been living under a rock, the nuclear power plant in Fukushima was hit by a tsunami in 2011, resulting in the death of 18,000+ people. 

Goro Yanse, who is the general manager of Toshiba Nuclear Energy Systems said, "Scientists developed 'mini manbo' with the aim of operating in a highly radioactive environment.  We succeeded in developing a small robot with high-level radiation resistance, and through its deployment, we expect to get information that will support the advance of decommissioning." 

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Is Elon Musk Going to Prevent an Energy Crisis?

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Energy Crisis, Elon Musk, Tesla Batteries

Elon Musk has promised to deliver 100 MWh of energy storage to South Australia in 100 days.  Could he prevent an energy crisis with his Tesla technology?

Elon Musk has promised South Australia that he will deliver 100 megawatts of hours worth of battery storage within 100 days of signing the contract to keep South Australia from having blackouts.  Musk offered to do this for $250 per kilowatt hour - all in a tweet. 

Tesla battery storage 

"The government stands ready through ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) and the CEFC to work with companies with serious proposals to support the development of more storage," said Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg.

Can Tesla do it?  

According to Michael Barnard, Low-carbon Innovation Analyst (Quora), it is possible.  Musk built 80 MWH of grid-tied battery capacity in California in 100 days.  100 MWH of batteries equates to 1,000 Tesla cars.  Tesla delivers 25,000 every quarter, so it is possible to deliver what Musk has promised.  Especially, since he made a bet; if he couldn't deliver in 100 days, the project was free.  That would be a cost of approximately $25 million to eat if he failed to meet his deadline.

 

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How We Reduced a Refinery's Maintenance Cost by 150%

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Refineries spend a lot of money on maintenance.  One particular refinery that we worked with had an outdated fire protection system that was costing them a ton of money to keep it running.  Learn how we reduced their costs by 150% right here.

Refinery's Initial Problem.

The fire protection system hadn't been maintained, and several of the systems were out of service.

What did F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems Need to Do? 

We inspected and tested 2,000+ fire protection devices.  Our inspectors found that many of the systems were completely out of service.  Other systems weren't out of service, but were not in a condition to adequately protect the refinery.

How did we save the refinery 150% in maintenance? 

We repaired any fire sprinkler and alarm systems that were salvagable, and replaced any that could not be brought to working order.  We were able to repair 86 fire hydrants and numerous fire systems.  F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems replaced 11 dry valves and 2 fire alarm panels. 

They also began a preventative maintenance program with the refinery.  Each year, the program cost the refinery less and less as the systems got to their optimal performance.  Over 3 years, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems reduced their maintenance cost by 150%.

Not bad.

Read the full refinery case study here. 

 

8 Killed in China Chemical Plant Explosion

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8 Killed Chemical Plant Explosion

China -- Eight people were killed in an explosion that happened at a Chinese chemical plant.  The explosion and fire that followed happened Monday, according to authorities.

The accident happened at 1am, when a liquefied gas tanker exploded in a loading area in the petrochemical plant.  That explosion triggered fires that set fuel storage tanks on fire, causing more explosions.  

When fire crews arrived, 900 firefighters reported.  Nearby residents were evacuated.  The fire was brought under control by the late afternoon. 

The plant's owner was detained by police.  The injured were taken to a hospital, and eight people died.  

China has one of the worst workplace accident records in the world.  In 2015, 173 people were killed in a chemical storage explosion.

Read the full story on the chemical plant fire here. 

 

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New Construction Wearable Protects Workers from Falls

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construction workers IoT technology

In 2015, 5,000 workers died on the job.  Of those 5,000, 38.8% were from falls (Bureau of Labor Statistics).  A new IoT wearable device can keep construction workers safe from falls with a waterproof belt sensor.

The technology was made by Triax Technologies.  They provide wearable tech for construction sites.  Their IoT-based sensor clips to a belt.  If the worker slips, trips, or falls, safety personnel is alerted in real time.  The construction worker ultimately gets first aid faster.  The sensor also allows workers to send safety alerts during emergencies.  From there, an authorized person can send an evacuation alert to everyone wearing the sensor.

The sensor is waterproof with a 1-year battery life. 

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ABB Builds New Transformer Factory in South Africa

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ABB Builds New Transformer Factory in South Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa -- ABB inaugurated a new traction transformer production facility near its headquarters to be "closer to our customers." 

"ABB is proud of this new traction transformer facility in South Africa, reiterating our philosophy of locating manufacturing units close to our customers," said Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO of ABB.  "It reinforces our Next Level strategy focus on strengthening our presence in Africa and supports our ongoing commitment to sustainable mobility."

The traction transformers feed power at safe voltages to South Africa's railway network.  It allows trains to safely and properly function in terms of traction, brakes, lighting, heating, ventilation, signaling, and communication.

Read more here. 

 

 

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OSHA and Crystalline Silica Rule | Spotlight on Safety

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The health of our workers and the construction community as a whole is the most important thing to The Moran Group. That is why we write our Spotlight on Safety articles, have weekly Toolbox Talks, create intense new employee safety training, and offer continuing learning opportunities regularly. We also will update you when OSHA has new regulations. On September 23, 2017, OSHA is issuing two new standards for worker health and safety for respirable crystalline silica. One will be for general industry and the other will be for construction.

In over 600,000 workplaces, two million construction workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica. Of those two million, 840,000+ workers are exposed to an amount that exceeds permissible exposure levels (PEL).  Silica is a colorless mineral compound found in asphalt, brick, cement, concrete, drywall, grout, morter, stone, sand, and tile.  Silica is not hazardous unless it has been disturbed.  Once inhaled, it will remain in your lungs, creating health hazards such as silicosis, lung cancer, pulmonary disease, and kidney disease.

Exposure comes from a number of sources: masonry saws, grinders, drills, jackhammers, handheld powered chipping tools, operating vehicle mounted drilling rigs, milling, operating crushing machines, or using heavy equipment for demolition.

OSHA is now requiring that employers reduce worker's exposure to respirable crystalline silica and take other steps to protect workers when they are exposed.

According to OSHA, employers are required to:

• Establish and implement a written exposure control plan that identifies tasks that involve exposure and methods used to protect workers, including procedures to restrict access to workers areas where high exposures may occur.

• Designate a competent person to implement the written exposure control plan

• Restrict housekeeping practices that expose workers to silica where feasible alternatives are available.

• Offer medical exams - including chest x-rays and lung function tests - every 3 years for workers who are required to wear a respirator 30+ days per year.

• Train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and way to limit exposure.

• Keep records of workers' silica exposure and medical exams.

Be aware of your surroundings and keep yourself safe while working with tools that may expose you or your co-workers to respirable crystalline silica.

OSHA has a huge emphasis on Silica due to the exposure in the Construction Industry. A standard was created. OSHA rules with the intent to limit worker exposure. They predict it will save over 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year. Provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion, annually.

OSHA Crystalline Silica Rule in the United States.

1.  The policy of FE Moran is to perform work in the safest manner possible. FE Moran will provide the safest possible working conditions for its employee workplace.

2.  The purpose of this program is to protect employees from the exposure to silica and the hazards associated with it. This program will also ensure compliance with the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Silica Standard, Title 29, Part 1926.1153 Respirable Crystalline Silica.

3.  The standard will be in effect as of September 23, 2017. In order to provide the opportunity to conduct additional outreach, provide educational material and guidance for employers, and to provide additional time to train compliance officers, OSHA has already delayed the compliance date from the Original date of June 23, 2017.

Crystalline Silica.JPG

Key Provisions for Crystalline Silica

a.  Employers can either utilize a control method laid out in Table 1 of the construction standard, or they can measure workers’ exposure to silica and independently decide which dust control work best to limit exposures to the PEL in their workplace. If not utilizing table 1, employers must:

- Measure the amount of silica that workers are exposed to if it may be at or above an action level of 25µg/m³ (micro grams of silica per cubic meter of air) averaged over an eight hour day.

 - Protect workers from respiratory crystalline silica exposures above the permissible exposure limit of 50µg/m³ (micro grams of silica per cubic meter of air), averaged over an eight-hour day.

        - Use dust control to protect workers from silica exposures above the PEL.

        - Provide respirators to workers when dust controls cannot limit exposures to the PEL.

b.  Regardless of which exposure control method is used, all construction employers covered by the standard are required to:

 - Establish and implement a written exposure plan that identifies tasks that involve exposure and methods used to protect workers.

 - Designate a competent person to implement the written exposure plan.

 - Restrict Housekeeping practices that expose workers to silica when feasible alternatives are available.

- Offer medical exams – including chest X-rays and lung functioning tests – Every three years for workers who are required by the standard to wear a respirator for 30 or more days per year.

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Coal Dust Explosion at Green Bay Plant + Video

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Coal Dust Explosion

Green Bay, WI -- A plant had a coal dust explosion on April 19, which the Green Bay Metro Fire Department posted on Facebook video.

The explosion happens 40 seconds into the video.

No firefighters were hurt in the explosion.  The firefighters were in contact with plant employees during the ordeal and informed them that an explosion was about to happen.

"The piece of equipment which was on fire was designed with 'blow out' panels which allow a smaller explosion, but reduce the chances of a catastrophic explosion," said Green Bay Metro Fire Department. 

The fire department announced that everyone "went home safe." 

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F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems Receives TRMA Safety Award

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F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems

F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems Receives Three River's Manufacturers' Association Safety Award

TRMA Honors F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems for Eighth Consecutive Year

Northbrook, IL - The Three Rivers Manufacturers' Association (TRMA) is recognizing F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems for the eighth consecutive year for their safety program. In 2016, the company worked at TRMA member facilities without any injuries in 2016.

F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems received a Safety Recognition Certificate from TRMA as congratulations and thank you. TRMA members collectively worked over six million hours in 2016 at TRMA facilities and recorded an OSHA incidence rating of .39. Many TRMA member companies worked without any injuries, including F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems.

In 2015, it was reported that that manufacturing companies averaged an OSHA recordable incidence rate of 3.8 and 3.7 for specialty trades. The Moran Group, the parent company of F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems, has a .56 EMR.

TRMA began their Safety Center in 1993, providing hands-on training to contractors. It is estimated that the Safety Center has reduced injury rates by 83%.

F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems has been providing top-notch fire protection solutions for power, chemical, and industrial plants since 1979. Their established safety program, led by Safety Director, Jason Galoozis, includes job hazard analysis, electrical safety, fire protection, fall protection, regular safety training, and personal protective equipment. Through Mr. Galoozis' program, field employees go through weekly safety meetings and new employee comprehensive safety training. The safety of their employees and the community they work in is of the utmost importance, and F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems is very proud to have earned this award.

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Conveyor Fire Shuts Down Coal Power Plant

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conveyor fire coal power plant

India -- A coal conveyor belt caught on fire, shutting down a unit at Talwandi Sabo Thermal Plant.

"A fire broke out in the conveyor belt area and nearly a 25m portion of the belt was damaged due to which the coal supply was disrupted.  The plant had to be shut down.  The technical teams are assessing the cause of the fire and the losses.  It may take fifteen days to restart the plant," said the communications head of the plant, Vishal Aggarwal.

The fire ignited at 11pm when a conveyor belt system transporting coal collapsed by the transfer junction tower.

The fire was extinguished by the Vandanta company fire brigade.

"The power plant officials controlled the fire, but the power production was shut.  They are trying to restore power generation.  There was no casualty in the incident," said government officials.

Learn all about the fire hazards within a coal-fired power plant here

Read the full story here. 

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Slide Deck Video: Battery Storage Facility Fire Protection

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battery storage facility

Here at F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems, we have been getting contacted more and more about battery storage facilities.  Check out our answers to the frequently asked questions we hear about battery storage facility fire protection.

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Crews from Several Towns Fight Fire at Springfield Power Plant

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Crews from several towns fight fire at Springfield power plant

Springfield, NH -- A fire broke out at Springfield Power Plant on Tuesday in a silo, and required fire crews from multiple towns to assist in fighting the fire.

When the fire crews arrived, they discovered that the fire had ignited in machinery on the fifth floor right around 4pm.  Heavy smoke and dangerous conditions made fighting the fire difficult.  Crews worked hard to fight the fire before it could spread to the wood pellets in the silo.

"It was actually in the conveyor that goes up to feed the boiler, so it was all contained to that, so there was no  threat there.  It was the heat and the warm temperatures that was rough on the guys," said Chief Pete Lacaillade.

Several firefighters were injured and needed to be treated for heat exhaustion.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.  Read full story here. 

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FAQ: Battery Energy Storage Facilities + Their Fire Hazards

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battery energy storage

Battery energy storage facilities are a relatively new fixture in power generation & distribution. It is growing though, and we are seeing them more and more. Battery storage systems take the off peak energy and store it for peak time when more energy is needed. In this blog post, we're going to answer the following questions about fire hazards in battery storage rooms to give some insight into this emerging facility space:

• Are batteries the hazard?
• How do we fight battery storage room fires?
• What code do battery storage rooms fall under?
• What are other safety hazards to watch out for in battery storage rooms?
 

1) Are batteries the hazard?

Short answer: not really. The main issue is how these storage rooms are made. Oftentimes, the rooms weren't built with battery energy storage in mind. They were existing structures and became battery energy storage rooms. The true hazard is the lack of ventilation often found in these rooms.  Charging batteries in a fault or overcharge condition can generate hydrogen, which is highly flammable. As little as 4% hydrogen in a poorly ventilated room can cause an explosion and subsequent fires. Hydrogen in the room should be less than 1%, so periodic ventilation surveys need to be conducted to stay safe.

 

2) How do we fight battery storage room fires?

No one wants to be shocked, correct? So if water is in these spaces, disconnection of the power sources must be considered. There is a high risk of electrical shock and possible toxic water run off with the use of water suppression.  Firefighters should use a carbon dioxide extinguishing system. We installed a fire protection system for a battery energy storage room at a natural gas power plant. For this system, we installed a FM-200 fire suppression system, which is a clean agent. It discharges in less than 10 seconds and has little to no clean up. A sprinkler system was also available as a back-up. You can read more about that install here.

3) What code do battery storage rooms fall under?

Battery storage rooms have to adhere to two codes:  National Electric Code (NEC 480) and NFPA 70E. NFPA 70E was created to protect personnel by reducing major electrical hazards.

4) What are other safety hazards to watch out for in battery storage rooms?

Battery storage rooms can be difficult to work in. They have limited paths of egress, poor lighting, little working space, rarely a guard for exposed live wiring, and little ventilation. When the battery bank is disconnected, it is still charged. When maintenance, repair, or replacement is needed, the battery system cannot be de-energized. Have your safety director write up a Job Site Assessment (JSA) to find solutions to any potential issues.

While battery energy storage rooms are a relatively new development, they are growing. The energy grid has more solar and wind generation facilities which generate only when the sun shines or the wind blows, not necessarily when power is needed. You will find battery energy storage rooms used to store excess electricity to be used during peak times. We hope this blog post gave you some insight into how to stay safe when working with these structures.

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Top 5 Power + Construction Stories This Week

power plant and construction news

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We're reviewing the top power and construction stories from last week.  Fires, deadly collapses, new tech, and gas leaks top the list this week.

1)  Investigation into Fire at Moneypoint Power Station

The cause is not yet known for a coal-fired power plant fire.  It ignited on a coal conveyor and caused some damage, but the output was not affected thanks to the fire suppression system.  An ESB spokesperson said, "The station's automatic fire detection and suppression systems were activated and trained station personnel were immediately deployed to investigate and control the fire.  Local Authority Fire Service was also called to assist." 

2)   At Least 9 Killed in Operation Platform Collapse at a Power Plant in China

At least nine people were killed when an operation platform collapsed at a Chinese power plant.  The power plant is still under construction and the accident is under investigation.  China has a bad reputation for workplace safety.  In 2015, 114 people were killed in a warehouse explosion, and in 2016, 21 people were killed in a coal-fired power plant explosion. 

3)   Power Station Evacuated Following Gas Leak

Berakas power management company confirmed that all non-essential staff were evacuated from the power station due to a gas leak.  The gas, Cyclopentane, a highly flammable gas, leaked, and was classified as a low explosion level (LEL). 

4)   Fire Damaged Monroe Power Plant

A fire caused damage to a mostly closed power plant.  The fire started in a dust collector.  Firefighters were at the plant for two hours knocking down the fire, which was exacerbated by coal dust. 

5)   Eco-friendly Power Plant Technology in India

Bharat Heavy Electricals commissioned an eco-friendly Circulating Fluidized Bed Combustion technology that uses lignite as the primary fuel.  The technology uses India's low grade, high-moisture lignite.  Lignite is a "brown coal."  It is soft, combustible sedimentary rock formed from compressed peat. 

 

 

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Nat Gas Power Plant Adds Battery Storage Room with Fire Protection

Natural Gas Power Plant

Click here to ask our experts your battery storage room questions -->  Click Here.

When the bid process was delayed, timelines were blown, and long lead equipment was not ordered when needed, putting stress on the project team, a fire reminded us why we do what we do.

New Challenges + Tight Timelines

A small, 45-MW natural-gas power plant contacted us for an interesting project that we were excited to work on. The plant was adding four battery storage rooms to an existing building that was on site at this southern California plant. The battery rooms will store excess energy that is produced during non-peak hours to use during peak hours. We were given a fast tracked schedule, and while it was a tight timeline, the opportunity to work on this unique, fast-paced project was exactly the type of challenge we look for to showcase our abilities.

The battery storage room needed an FM-200 system and a Notifier Fire Alarm system with heat detection, and a VESDA air sampling detection system. While this was the first time installing a system in a battery storage building of this size, the systems were typical and well within our wheel house.

Questioning Bids + Delayed Schedules

This power plant was eager for a quick turnaround. However, the plant required that the GC provide pricing from competitors to compare costs. This process began after the timeline was set. For three weeks, prices were compared, and, although F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems wasn't the lowest bid, they were chosen based on past performances, good relationship, and track record with the GC. The demanding timeline wasn't adjusted based on this three week delay. With the delay, design and equipment lead time was put off as well, and we weren't able to meet the aggressive deadline due to the long lead times.

Long Awaited Equipment + System Tested

The equipment finally arrived, and we were able to complete the install three weeks past the original deadline but within our originally advertised time of performance. Shortly after the system was installed, it was tested in a real fire situation. A fire ignited in battery room 4, and our system operated perfectly. The fire was suppressed and damage was minimal.

The project manager on the project summarized, "We learned that we must demand the same level of performance from our vendors, design team, project management, and sales team that we've come to expect from our field team in order to meet our clients toughest demands."

Learn more about this project and its Greentech Media Grid Edge award here. 

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Power plants - turbine generator enclosures, transformer vaults, hazardous material storage rooms, and battery storage rooms. • Aluminum rolling mill plants  ...
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Siemens 3D Prints Nuke Power Plants Parts

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Siemens 3D prints parts

Slovenia -- Siemens has added 3D printing to their digital services, and has installed their first 3D printed part for a nuclear power plant.  Nuclear plants are one of the most regulated industry properties.  Being able to get the 3D part approved is quite an accomplishment.

The 3D printed replacement part was used in the Krsko Nuclear Plant for a fire protection pump.  The part helps to provide pressure to the fire protection system at the plant.  The original part was manufactured by a company that is no longer in business and obsolete.

Obsolete parts are a great opportunity to use 3D technology.  The parts are nearly impossible to find.  By 3D printing these parts, a plant that would have had no option but to replace an entire system now has the option to just replace a part that went bad.

Engineers for Siemens reverse-engineered the part to create a digital twin.  Their manufacturing facility in Sweden then printed the part.

"We continue to push forward our investments and cutting-edge advancements in additive manufacturing and 3D printing," said Tim Holt, CEO of Siemens Power Generation Services.  "This achievement at the Krsko nuclear power plant is another example of how the digital transformation and the data-driven capabilities we have are impacting the energy industry in ways that really matter.  Additive manufacturing's reduced lead times and faster production optimizes parts replacement and creates real value for our customers."

Continue reading the story here. 

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Tesla Batteries Power New Solar Plant

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tesla batteries

Kuai -- On 50 acres of land in Kauai sits a state of the art solar power plant that is using Tesla batteries to power the plant.

The plant is using Tesla batteries as storage technology.  They store the electricity that the solar plant produces.  The batteries then feed the energy to the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative at night when the strain to the grid is at its highest.

"By using solar energy stored in the battery after the sun goes down, we will reduce our use of imported fuels and our greenhouse gas emmissions significantly," said KIUC President and Chief Executive Officer David Bissel.

Approximately, 1.6 million gallons of diesel will be saved due to the solar plant.  It will bring in 40% more renewable generation and save money.

Read the full story here. 

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Concentrated Solar Power Plants have many little known fire hazards. This article discusses the fire hazards and sprinkler and detection options.
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French Nuke Plant Fire Stirs Industry Turmoil

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French Nuke Plant

France -- On Thursday morning an explosion and fire happened at a French nuclear plant in the turbine room.  This comes at a time when the world is falling out of love with nuclear power.  

The fire occurred at the Flamanville Nuclear Plant on the western shore of France.  The fire was in a building only a few dozen yards from the nuclear reactor.

The explosion and fire shut down reactor 1 of the 2-reactor plant.  The plant has not released an official cause of the fire, but it is believed that the explosion and fire were caused from overheating.  The fire started in a fan underneith an alternator.

No one was hurt, but five workers were examined for smoke inhalation after complaining of feeling ill.

This fire comes at a complicated time for nuclear power in France.  In 2015, the French government set a ceiling of 63.2 GW of nuclear electricity generation capacity.  The government determined that Flamanville would be commissioned upon the shutdown of Fessenheim, a 39-year old power plant.

Read the full story here. 

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Fire Shuts Down Nuke Plant in SC

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nuclear power plant fire

Seneca, SC -- A South Carolina nuclear plant experienced a fire, which was classified as an "unusual event."  It shut down the plant.

The fire damaged a power line and shut down part of the facility on Sunday.  The flames shot into the air and caused a plume of smoke to rise into the sky.  A power line in the switchyard was damaged and caused an equipment fault.  The fire caused no threat to the public. 

Duke Energy released a statement saying, "There was no release of any radioactive material."  The fire was not close to the nuclear reactors, turbine, or generator.  The station has three nuclear units, but only one was affected.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported that the fire started at 3:12pm, damaged overhead lines that supplied emergency power to the units.  By 5:08pm local and state fire firefighters extinguished the fire.

Read more here. 

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