International Conference "Pressing Issues challenging the Chlor-Alkali Industry", hereinafter referred to as the “Conference” was held at the meeting room of Moscow downtown's five-star hotel “National” on November 15, 2017. While having been routinely organized by World Chlorine Council, hereinafter referred to as the “WCC”, the Conference was held in Moscow for the first time ever.
WCC was established in 1995 out of a strategic aim to coordinate the work of the national chlor-alkali industries' both associations and programs all over the world so that the said work should promote the said industry’s interests to the maximal possible extent. WCC is structurally just one of the committees of another international “umbrella” NGO called “International Council of Chemical Associations” hereinafter referred to as the “ICCA”.
Therefore, WCC is essentially such a global non-governmental, nonprofit corporation that is uniting almost all the national and regional trade associations representing the industrial producers of both chlorine and its derivatives.
Association “RusChlor”, hereinafter referred to as the “RusChlor”, has been a full-member in WCC since 2012 while RusChlor's Executive Director Boris Yagud is being a member in the WCC's management Committee's board.
There have participated more than eighty people in the Conference. In so doing the participants represented in excess of forty eight legal entities there including Ministry of Industry and Trade, Federal Service for Ecological, Technological, and Nuclear Supervision (ROSTEKHNADZOR) of the Russian Federation, Russian Chemists Union, Chlor-Alkali Industry Association of the United States of America, hereinafter referred to as the “US Chlorine Institute”, Federation of the European Chlor-Alkali Industry, hereinafter referred to as the “Euro Chlor”, American Chemistry Council, hereinafter referred to as the “ACC” as well as the manufacturers of chlorine and its derivatives, transport companies, engineering companies, manufacturers and vendors of the deliverables, raw materials, and equipment working for the chlor-alkali industry in and out of Germany, Italy, France, the US, Switzerland, Byelorussia, Kazakhstan, China, and India.
Following the preliminary consultations with RusChlor there have been selected the following three major themes for discussion at the Conference there:
Plausible hazard assessment under the supposition of a large-scale release of chlorine.
Foreign practice in providing for safety in transportation of chlorine.
Optimal practices of converting the mercury cell electrolysis technologies into the membrane electrolysis ones.
The US Chlorine Institute was represented by its President Frank Reiner at the Conference. As was Euro Chlor represented by its Technical Director Ton Manders there. Executive Director of Association “RusChlor” Boris Yagud was the Conference’s co-Chair from the Russian side.
There have been delivered the following presentations at the Conference:
1. “Jack Rabbit”: a national programme of the in-situ actual-service tests aimed at researching the propagation of chlorine both the gaseous and liquid one under the supposition of a major, large-scale, catastrophic accident involving the release of big quantities of chlorine into the environment.
2. Rail Comparison Between Regions: Russia, both Americas, and Europe.
3. The operating experience gathered in transportation of chlorine carried out with the use of chlorine trucks in Europe and both Americas.
4. Conversion from the Mercury cathode to Membrane in the electrolytic production of chlorine.
5. Accidental Mixing of the incompatible chemical products implicating the release of chlorine.
6. Lessons learned from the accidents.
7. The real Emergency Response actions estimated against the background of the training efforts in both preparedness and mitigation of consequences under the supposition of the emergency situation caused by a large-scale hurricane.
8. Hydrogen in chlorine: systems of control and safety.
9. Methods of Safe Storage of Metallic Mercury and Solidified Mercury.
The Conference was co-chaired by Executive Director of Association “RusChlor” Mr. Boris Yagud and President of the US Chlorine Institute Mr. Frank Reiner.
The formal opening of the Conference was preceded by a musical greeting performed by string quartet "AMATI",
which was followed by a welcome address delivered by President of Russian Chemists Union Mr. Victor Ivanov.
After that the Conference really began. The first presentation was devoted to an American programme of the large-scale in-situ actual-service tests being essentially a series of the controlled releases of very big quantities of the liquid chlorine. The programme was called "Jack Rabbit" and it is still going on in the United States. The tests were initially aimed at researching the dynamics of the gaseous and liquid chlorine under the emergency circumstances of a large-scale accidental release of the liquid chlorine.
Programme “Jack Rabbit” was developed and put into practice under the general supervision of Chemical Security Analysis Center at Department of the Homeland Security of the United States of America, hereinafter referred to as the “DHS”. The presentation was prepared by Director of Programme “Jack Rabbit” empowered by DHS Dr. Shannon Fox. Unfortunately, Mr. Fox failed to make it to Moscow for the Conference. Therefore, his presentation was actually delivered at the Conference on Mr. Fox’s behalf by President of the US Chlorine Institute Mr. Frank Reiner.
While being extremely both sophisticated technically and knowledge-intensive, Project “Jack Rabbit" is interesting in the first place for its paving the way to such an estimation of the accuracy of the various forecasts having been worked out with the use of so called “theoretical” models that should be based on the solid verifiable knowledge rather than speculations. There had not been carried out any such natural experiment ever before the beginning of Jack Rabbit that could be even at a good stretch considered comparable in its scale, extent, and thoroughness to any one of those carried out under Jack Rabbit.
There participated in the works under Jack Rabbit not only US organizations, scientific laboratories, institutes, and universities, but a few international researchers as well. The presentation considered only the second stage of the project. It was named “Jack Rabbit II” and all the works were carried out under it within the time period spanning the years 2015 and 2016.
The first stage of the project was called “Jack Rabbit I” and all the experiments were carried out in 2012 under it when chlorine was released in portions amounting to not more than merely 2 metric tons each. In the course of Jack Rabbit II experiments there were carried out a few releases of liquid chlorine in 2015 each not exceeding the level of 5 – 9 tons in the weight of the released substance. The amounts released in the experiments rose substantially in 2016 to the level of 10 – 20 tons. The analysis of the “Jack Rabbit” experiments’ outcomes is still going on.
Frank Reiner also made a presentation devoted to the experience gathered in bulk transportation of liquid chlorine over rail in the North America. The point is that such a transportation is currently more and more making up an issue that is rather hot in the Russian Federation. In so doing Mr. Reiner also notified the listeners on the technical recommendations that the US Chlorine Institute had issued in connection to the kind of transportation considered.
As a matter of fact, chlorine is currently being transported in the territory of the North America as packaged in the cylinders, ton-containers, small ISO-containers each being equal to 9 metric tons in its carrying capacity, road tanks each being equal to 20 metric tons in its carrying capacity, and in bulk. The latter involves the use of the railroad tanker cars each being equal to 90 tons in its carrying capacity. In so doing the transportation over rail still accounts for approximately a quarter of all the chlorine transported in the North America.
There has recently surfaced up a tendency for the share of the rail transportation to decline with time there. In contrast to the Russian-made railway tank-cars the American-made ones have a layer of insulation material laid over the outer surface of the pressure vessel. The American-made railway tank-car’s tank shell is equipped with two pairs of valves so that one couple of valves are supposed to process the liquid chlorine and the other two valves are supposed to process the gaseous chlorine. The shell is also equipped with an inner high-speed valve and the safety valve in addition to the four production valves.
Mr. Reiner also showed a structural layout of both the Process Control Valves used in the loading-unloading operations performed with the tank-cars and the emergency cutoff valves. Most chlorine railroad tanker cars are equipped with the GPS-based both online tracking systems and sensors for the chlorine leakages in the US. Mr. Reiner also briefed the Conference attendees on the measures currently taken by the US government out of the aim to improve the safety of the railway transportation of the hazardous products.
Technical Director of Euro Chlor Ton Manders also made a presentation devoted to the experience gathered in transporting the liquid chlorine in Europe.
In so doing Mr. Manders highlighted the fact that the beginning of such transportations dates back as far ago as 60 years. In this connection Mr. Manders stressed that despite the positive fact that there had not happened any such traffic accidents for those 60 years that could be rightfully characterized as serious ones not even speaking of catastrophic, the railway freights of liquid chlorine accounted for a very little share of all the chlorine transported in Europe while the share was steadily decreasing against the background of that there were a few European countries where the governments were mulling the complete prohibition of the railway transportation of chlorine on their territories.
Mr. Manders also said that in so doing the on-site generation of chlorine is considered an alternative to the railway transportation. Mr. Manders said that irrespective of what he had said before, Euro Chlor had developed quite a few thorough recommendations aimed to be of help in the railway transportation of chlorine. In that context Mr. Manders notified the listeners on that the European-made chlorine railway tank-cars were being build to carry up to 55 metric tons of the liquid chlorine while being equipped with neither any insulation nor sun-protection devices nor relief pressure valves, which distinguished them from not only the Americam-made analogs but the Russian-made ones as well.
There are mounted onto the European-style chlorine railway tank-car in conjunction with the emergency inner high-speed shutdown valves the production valves each being equipped with both the air-powered drive system and a few purposefully brittle fastening bolts so that in case of such an emergency situation that involves the roll-over of the tank-car and damage made to a production valve, the inner high-speed shutdown valve that is coupled with that production valve should be still intact.
The European-style chlorine railway tank-cars are required to be manufactured out of such construction materials that will guaranteedly allow such a tank-car to safely function at the operational temperatures not below minus forty degrees Celsius. The railway tank-cars’ under-frames are also required to be equipped with such the caniniform car buffers that should prevent the tank-car from rearing up if an accident happened. There are also required the special shields to be mounted onto the under-frame so that the end heads of the barrel should be protected against puncture under the accident circumstances.
Executive Director of Association “RusChlor” Boris Yagud briefed the Conference attendees on the current situation of the modernization programme that was being enforced by the Government in regard to the Russian fleet of the chlorine railroad tanker cars.
In particular, Mr. Yagud highlighted the requirement imposed by the Russian Government that within the two-year period that had started from the beginning of the year 2017, all the tank-cars of the abovementioned fleet should be made anew and up-to-date. In so doing, the so called "innovative" railcars are required to comply with the requirements of all the acting technical regulations, Federal legislation, including Federal Rules and Regulations for Industrial Safety issued by Federal Service for Ecological, Technological, and Nuclear Supervision of the Russian Federation (ROSTEKHNADZOR) aligned with the international such rules. In carrying out such a complex task there is supposed to be heavily drawing on the experience gathered in designing the analogous railway tank cars in both the US and Europe.
In elaborating the general theme of bulk transportation of the liquid chlorine over rail Executive Director of Association “RusChlor” Boris Yagud together with Mr. Sergeij Gurin of Scientific-Production Association “Transportation Cybernatics” represented to the Conference attendees a GPS-based system for continuous automatic tracking of the liquid chlorine freights being transported over rail.
The system is being jointly developed in the Russian Federation by the Russian companies “Production Association ‘Electronics” and “Scientific & Production Company ‘INKRAM”. The key idea on which the system is hinged is that the system’s E-seal device, hereinafter referred to as the “ESD”, in which both a leak detector and the subsystem that controls it are embedded is supposed to be working together with a lock and seal device hereinafter referred to as the “LSD”.
The designers have already obtained a part of the obligatory permissive documents for the system being considered. They are expected to be granted the authorization for use of the LSD by Public Joint-Stock Company "Russian Railways" soon enough. Having obtained the said operational permit the two developer companies will have the right to mount both the LSD and ESD with the embedded gas analyzer onto not only the chlorine railway tank-cars but the chlorine containers as well. If the engineering decisions being considered were fully implemented, it would make it possible to give up both the inefficient and dangerous practice of escorting the railway freights of chlorine with the teams of gas rescuers.
In contrast to Russia there are used among other pressure vessels the chlorine trucks in transportation of chlorine in Europe and both Americas.
In his presentation Ton Manders briefed the Conference attendees on the experience gathered in transportation over Europe of the liquid chlorine packed into the chlorine trucks, cylinders, and containers. In so doing Mr. Manders stressed that the share of chlorine annually transported in Europe by automobiles was steadily declining as was the share of chlorine transported over the railways there.
Quite in line with that tendency the experience gathered in transportation of the liquid chlorine by the road transport in Europe should be considered an evidence of safety of such transportation there because there had not happened even once such a traffic accident involving a vehicle loaded with chlorine that could be considered a “serious” one not even speaking of “catastrophic” in Europe up to the date of the Conference. Nevertheless, as is exactly the case with the railway transportation of chlorine, Euro Chlor has published quite a few thorough technical recommendations aimed at pushing the safety parameters of transportation of chlorine by the road vehicles in Europe even higher up.
The European-style chlorine highway cargo tanks are suitable for carrying up to 20 metric tons of the liquid chlorine in bulk. As is exactly the case with the ISO-containers allowed to be used in the road transportation of the liquid chlorine over Europe, the cargo tanks are equipped with both the production valves powered by the air and the emergency inner high-speed shutdown valves so that the former should be coupled with the latter. The design of the barrel of the European-style road tank is quite analogous to the one of the railroad tanker car. Therefore, the road tank being considered is devoid of both the safety valve and insulation. The construction materials out of which the chlorine containers and cylinders are manufactured are required under the European legislation to be such that the said pressure vessels should safely function at temperatures not lower than minus forty degrees Celsius.
On behalf of President of Association of the Alkali Manufacturers of the Latin America, hereinafter referred to as the “Clorosur”, Martim Penna Ton Manders made a presentation devoted to the experience gathered in road transportation of chlorine in the South America. There is being transported chlorine in the Latin America as packaged into the chlorine cylinders, ton containers, ISO-containers whose carrying capacity in the liquid chlorine varies from 8 to 20 metric tons and in bulk in which case the cargo is poured into the road tanks whose carrying capacity in the liquid chlorine ranges from 12 to 27 metric tons. All the road transportation of the liquid chlorine is governed by the national legislation there. The presenter highlighted the following acute problems faced in the course of the transportation considered:
- traffic accidents involving the rollover of the means of transport;
- too high a speed at going through roads with sharp slopes and/or tight bends;
- a lack of the road signs;
- old age of the drivers.
In particular, the presenter described to the listeners the followup of the traffic accident that had involved the rollover of such a road tanker loaded with the liquid chlorine that had been driven by a seventy-four-year-old. Fortunately the accident did not result in any release of chlorine, which made the works on mitigation of the accident’s consequences relatively easy. With another slide the presenter also showed to the Conference attendees the educational tools used in training the specialized personnel in proper servicing both the road tankers and containers used in transportation of the liquid chlorine.
Frank Reiner briefed the listeners on what the general situation of the transportation of chlorine over roads really is like in the North America. In so doing the presenter underlined the peculiar fact that compared to the transportation over rail the number of sorties performed by the road tankers in the North America in delivering the freights of the liquid chlorine to the consumers is rather small. There were also presented the major Chlorine Institute guidance materials published out of the general aim to help in making the road transportation of the liquid chlorine maximally safe in America. The presenter also stressed that there had not recently happened any serious accidents in transportation of chlorine over roads in America.
Compared to the American-style railroad tanker car the design of the road tanker is relatively the same for both the car’s barrel and valves. There was also presented in the Mr. Reiner's lecture a complex of the intertwined organizational and managerial actions implemented in the US aimed at preventing even the origination of the emergencies and off-nominal situations so that the complex in question should cover the whole production chain starting from the producer of chlorine and ending at the industrial consumers of chlorine and its derivatives.
The issue of switching from the mercury cathode electrolysis to the membrane one in the electrolytic production of chlorine and alkalis is very hot in the Russian Federation. It is worth noticing in this connection that each of the three Russian chlor-alkali plants that are still actively employing the mercury-cell technology has recently made considerable advances towards the general aim of limiting the emission of mercury into the environment by zero through modernization the environment protection technologies applied in the production process, which resulted in that the emission of mercury being currently generated by every facility is such that it would be considered benign even in Europe because the amounts of mercury annually emitted by the Russian plants are quite comparable to those emitted by the best European chlor-alkali facilities still running the mercury-cell technology. On the other hand though the UNEP Minamata Convention that has recently entered into the legal force after it had been signed by the empowered representatives of the Russian Federation shortly before, stipulates that all the mercury-cell chlor-alkali production facilities must be phased out all over the world by the year 2025. All the above said circumstances mean that the Russian chlor-alkali industry has been maneuvered into rather a difficult position. As to the US and Europe, the conversion process is going on at the full throttle there. Suffice it to say in this connection that more than 30 chlor-alkali plants have already switched from the mercury cathode to membrane in Europe.
There were analyzed a few field examples at the Conference of such conversion projects having been fulfilled in the West. In so doing Mr. James Heron of Olin Corporation made a presentation that was entitled “A practical example of continued safe operation during the conversion process”,
Ms. Franziska Herrmann of Chemieanlagenbau Chemnitz GmbH made a presentation that was entitled "Practical experiences from projects with conversion from mercury to membrane electrolysis technology",
and General Director of Italian company thyssenkrup Uhde Chlorine Engineers (Italia) S.r.l Dr. Albert Zimmermann made a presentation that was entitled “Experience with Conversion Projects as illustrated by the example of the ones carried out by thyssenkrup Uhde Chlorine Engineers (Italia) S.r.l”.
There was a separate bundle of the presentations made at the Conference that were devoted to the general theme of ways to lessen both the frequency of occurring and consequence severity for the accidents involving the releases of chlorine.
First, Ton Manders and Frank Reiner each analyzed the situation that can emerge from accidental mixing of hypochlorite with an acid. It has emerged from the practical experience that such accidents are occurring most frequently at the water treatment plants that switched from chlorine to sodium hypochlorite in their selection of the backbone disinfectant. It is a paradox that statistically the switch to hypo is likely to be followed by a rise in the number of accidents involving the release of gaseous chlorine.
There were given examples at the Conference of how the amount of the released chlorine could practically exceed the level of 5 or even 6 metric tons under the circumstances of the accidental mixing of sodium hypochlorite with the acidic media. These examples also highlighted such peculiarities of the accidents as the great speed of the reaction under which the chlorine was being released in the first place and that the released chlorine was sufficiently wet which was greatly worsening its toxicity for both environment and people.
There were also suggested such measures in the presentations that if properly taken, would considerably lessen the risk of the accidental mixing even under the supposition that the personnel were making wanton mistakes. There was also stressed in the presentations that the switch from chlorine to hypo in water treatment does not make up a so called “cure-all pill” in regard to the issues of safety because such a switch would not totally exclude the risk of the emergency situation appearance, rather the contrary. This consideration coupled with the suspicion that such a switch to the use of bleach could triple the operational costs for a water treatment plant compared to the case of that plant’s running on the pure chlorine is being given more and more weight in considering the projects that involve going to hypo from chlorine.
In his next presentation Frank Reiner gave examples of big accidents with chlorine that had occurred in the United States before the date of the Conference. He also described to the listeners the lessons that had been learned from each of the accidents so as to exclude even the possibility of appearance of such accidents in the future.
In particular, Mr. Reiner highlighted to the listeners such emergencies that were triggered off by the melting of a fusible plug in a ton-container caused by that the turned-off heat gun that was normally used in fixing the heat-shrink films was left unattended in a vicinity of the ton-container while being still hot, which caused leakage of chlorine from the container; leakage of chlorine out of a valve when the valve was opened in the process of first putting some part of equipment including that valve back into operation after maintenance; leakage of chlorine through the water of a heat-exchanger that had been damaged by corrosion; the leakage of chlorine that resulted from a power supply cut-off; a large-scale leakage of the liquid chlorine from a railway tank car caused by a lengthy crack in that tank-car’s wall, and some others.
In continuing on the topic of the lessons learned, Ton Manders briefed the Conference attendees on the experience gathered in Europe in the attempts to foresee and thwart the appearance of the emergencies involving chlorine. In so doing Mr. Manders explained to the listeners that the European approach was based on consequentially the information collection and processing, analysis of the accidents and abnormalities that had really occurred, development of the relevant guidance followed by notifications to all the concerned sides about that. Mr. Manders also gave the listeners a few examples of how the theory worked in practice.
The so called "human factor” makes up the most crucial circumstance that determines the technological safety of not only chlor-alkali production processes but of all the other business areas as well.
That was exactly the subject of the presentation that Executive Director of Association "RusChlor" Boris Yagud made at the Conference. In so doing he started from naming the sectors of the Russian industry that were widely considered most dangerous to the public. He underlined that both the chemical and petrochemical industries fell under that category.
Mr. Yagud named the human factor among the major reasons triggering the accidents off in the said industries. In so doing he also mentioned the equipment unreliability and obsolete technologies. Nevertheless, 88 per cent of all the accidents in the said industries were originated by the mistakes of personnel. According to what Mr. Yagud said in his presentation such a huge proportion might be accounted for by the influx of the unskilled workforce into the Russian chemical industry that had recently happened.
In his presentation Mr. Yagud also gave a few examples of how the incompetence of workers had ended up with overloading the ton-containers with the liquid chlorine and depressurizing of the railway tank cars containing the liquid chlorine as well. Mr. Yagud also suggested in his presentation that it was necessary to conduct analysis of both the psychological and psychophysiological peculiarities of the candidates in the course of the applicants selection for the vacant jobs at the chemical plants so that there should be appointed the right people to the jobs they would be fit for best.
The outcomes of the analysis being discussed could be also instrumental afterwards in tailoring the professional training course individually for each of the plant’s employees. Having been aggregated the analysis outcomes could be also useful in the researches aimed to estimate the function and importance of the “humane factor” in the case of the disruptions’ emerging in the production process at the plant. The presenter also briefed the listeners on the history of both the development of the psychologic testing techniques and their introduction into the managerial practice in the industry.
In so doing Mr. Yagud underlined the fact that as early as in 1993 there was introduced into the text of the acting “Safety Rules for Production of Chlorine and Chlorine-containing Substances” No. PBCh 93 paragraph 1.6 that had stipulated the following requirement: “All those employees of the plant out of the newly hired workers, technicians, and engineers whose jobs involve operations on chlorine must undergo the occupational fitness tests with the use of techniques developed by the competent organizations and approved by State Committee for Supervision of Industrial and Mining Practices of the Russian Federation…”
Mr. Yagud also mentioned the fact that as early as in 1997 and in full compliance with paragraph 1.14 of then acting “General rules on the explosion safety for the explosive-and-fire-hazardous chemical/ petrochemical plants and oil refineries” No. PB 09-170-97 the obligation to undergo the occupational fitness tests was extended to include all the personnel directly or indirectly linked to the operation of the hazardous production facilities.
Pursuant to both the aforementioned pieces of the Russian legislation, Psychology Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Russian Federation in cooperation with JSC “Russian Chlorine Safety Centre” headed by Mr. Yagud developed “Techniques Kit for the occupational fitness tests to be performed on the personnel involved into operation of the hazardous production facilities, gas rescue team and/or special service team members”. The aforementioned Techniques Kit was afterwards field-proved at a number of such production facilities of the chemical and petrochemical industries as well as of the Housing and Utilities Infrastructure of the Russian Federation that were processing or applying chlorine in their business.
JSC “Russian Chlorine Safety Centre” developed and introduced into practice in cooperation with Psychology Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Russian Federation a series of workshops aimed at training the would-be moderators at the future occupational fitness tests. Mr. Yagud informed the Conference attendees on that there had been conducted a comprehensive survey of the people who had been educated at the workshops. The survey has shown that in 85% of the practical cases the psychological profiles of the people who both had undergone the psychologic testing conducted by the moderators educated at the workshops and had been involved into real emergencies coincided with these people’s behaviors under those emergencies.
In summing up his presentation Mr. Yagud underlined that more than 400 people had been educated at the workshops including 157 professionals employed by the industrial producers or users of chlorine, 66 specialists employed by the petrochemical industry, 106 specialists working for the water treatment stations, and 71 people working at other hazardous production facilities.
The presentation delivered by Mr. James Heron of Olin on the topic of Emergency Response did make up for a kind of “Highlight of the Show” at the Conference. The point is that Mr Heron actually analyzed in his presentation the real case of mitigation of consequences of the recent catastrophic hurricane in the US. In the beginning of his presentation Mr. Heron notified the Conference attendees on that the precautionary measures in regard to hurricanes were being traditionally taken in the US every year in May and June because June 30th was generally considered the day on which the hurricane season begins.
Hurricanes are mostly battering the sea shore zone. There are used to being developed a comprehensive action plan aimed to both counteract the hurricane itself and mitigate its consequences at every potentially exposed industrialized site in the US well before the hurricane season actually comes. The plan usually includes a check of the site’s all buildings, installations, and utilities systems for their ability to withstand the incoming calamity and survive under it. The plan usually also provides for purchase of all the necessary emergency back-up means for both the personnel and the plant itself.
The hurricane is usually put under the close, intense, and continuous surveillance at the moment when a storm begins to unfold in the Mexican bay. In so doing the scale of the probable damages is also to be estimated for the site in question so that all the necessary and sufficient resources should be also earmarked beforehand. When that is done, all the personnel who are not directly engaged into the works on keeping the plant afloat for the time of the actual emergency should be evacuated. The monitoring services keep transmitting the alarm signals depending on the level of exposure and risk. After the hurricane has lost its force enough, there should be performed the assessment of damages followed by works on cleanup of the territory off all the debris. When all that has been done, the works on mitigation of the consequences of the natural disaster actually begin.
Ton Manders made a presentation at the Conference on the problems stemming from generation of hydrogen in the course the chlor-alkali production process. Irrespective of what technology of the electrolytic production of chlorine and alkalis is actually employed, there will be present a non-zero hydrogen content of the output gaseous chlorine there. Insomuch as hydrogen readily reacts with both chlorine and oxygen, there can happen both explosion and even detonation at least theoretically at the chlor-alkali plant. In delivering his presentation Mr. Manders briefed the Conference attendees on the threshold values of such the production process parameters as pressure, temperature, presence of the non-reactive gases that if crossed, would signalize the conditions that could be favorable for formation of the explosion hazardous gaseous mixtures.
Mr. Manders also suggested in his presentation that it was worth measuring the hydrogen content of the product at the output of the electrolyzers and condensers at the very least so that if the hydrogen content value went too high, there should be either added some nitrogen or dry air into the gas being condensed or heightened the temperature of condensation or both.
Mr. Gabriel Chifflier of Swiss company “BATREC” made a presentation at the Conference on the technique that the company applied to the task of stabilization of the metallic mercury.
In the course of that stabilization the elementary mercury is being converted into sulphide so that the sulphide would be allowed to put into the salt mines for permanent storage, which would be in full compliance with what the European Commission had decided in regard to the so called “excess mercury”.
The European Commission’s above-mentioned ruling on mercury while probably being optimal under the European both Environment Protection Legislation and general conditions currently characterized by the rapidly continuing phase-out of all the mercury electrolysis production facilities there followed by a sharp rise in the amounts of the excess mercury, does not look good enough for Russia. The point is that in the first place Russia does not have that much excess mercury at the possession of the three chlor-alkali plants that are still running the mercury electrolysis there.
Nevertheless, the technology itself that has been developed by BATREC could be interesting for its applicability to the task of stabilization of the metallic mercury content of the mercury-containing wastes of the still functioning Russian mercury-cell facilities so that the wastes could be lawfully considered decontaminated.
After the short discussion that was triggered off among the audience by the last presentation ended up, the moderators of the Conference thanked all the participants in it and especially the speakers and organizers, after which the Conference was closed.