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    Envirosafe Services -- application for variance.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration [V-93-1]

Envirosafe Services, Inc.

AGENCY: Occupational Safety and Health Administration Department of Labor.

ACTION: Notice of application for variance,

SUMMARY: This notice announces the application of Envirosafe Services, Inc. for a permanent variance from the standard which prescribes procedures to be used in draining and flushing combustible/flammable liquids (29 CFR 1910.106(b)(2)(viii)(f)).

DATES: The last date for interested parties to submit comments on this variance application is November 29, 1993.

The last date for affected employees and employers to request a hearing regarding this variance application is November 29, 1993.

ADDRESSES: Send comments and requests for a hearing to: Office of Variance Determination, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, room N-3653, Third Street and Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Hank Woodcock, Acting Director, Office of Variance Determination (under ADDRESS above), Telephone: (202)219-7193.

or the following OSHA Regional and Area Offices: U.S. Department of Labor-OSHA, 1111 Third Avenue, suite 715, Seattle, Washington 98101-3212.

U.S. Department of Labor-OSHA, 3050 N. Lakeharbor Lane, suite 134, Boise, Idaho 83703.

NOTICE OF APPLICATION: Notice is hereby given that Envirosafe Services, Inc. (hereafter, "Envirosafe" or "the applicant"), P.O. Box 833, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania 19482-0833, has made application pursuant to section 6(d) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, 29 U.S.C. 655, and 29 CFR 1905.11 for a permanent variance from the requirements prescribed by 29 CFR 1910.106(b)(2)(viii)(f) concerning procedures to be used in draining and flushing combustible/flammable liquids.

The address of the place of employment affected by this application is: Envirosafe Services of Idaho, Inc., Highway #78, Missile Base Road. Grand View, Idaho 83624.

The applicant has certified that copies of this application have been posted at its Grand View, Idaho facility in locations where employee notices are normally posted, and that employees have been informed of their right to petition the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health for a hearing on this matter.

Regarding the merits of this application, the applicant states that it is providing a place of employment as safe and healthful as that required by 29 CFR 1910.106(b)(2)(viii)(f), which states that:

Filling and emptying connections which are made and broken shall be located outside of the buildings at a location free from any source of ignition and not less than 5 feet away from any building opening. Such connection shall be closed and liquid- tight when not in use. The connection shall be properly identified.

This standard assures worker safety by preventing fires and explosions that may occur during transfer operations involving combustible/flammable liquids.

This purpose is accomplished by: Providing sufficient ventilation at combustible/flammable liquid transfer sites to prevent concentrations of vapor-air mixtures, resulting from spilled liquids, from exceeding one-fourth of the lower limit defined under 29 CFR 1910.106(a)(31); and, prohibiting sources at the transfer sites that could ignite these vapor-air mixtures.

The applicant operates a commercial storage and chemical-waste landfill facility for disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The applicant states that transformers and other articles containing PCBs received at the facility must be drained and flushed, and the flushed liquid placed into storage tanks. According to the applicant, two of its employees drain transformers containing PCB-contaminated oil into one of the two 10,000-gallon outside tanks. The transformers then are filled with diesel fuel and allowed to sit approximately 18 hours. The diesel fuel subsequently is drained into one of the two outside tanks, which can hold a maximum of 10,000 gallons each. The applicant states that it is during this draining and flushing operation that the filling and emptying connections are made and broken. These draining and flushing operations occur within the processing and storage building, as opposed to outside the building as required by the standard. The applicant notes that, as a result of these draining and flushing operations, a potential conflict exists between OSHA's requirement 29 CFR 1910.106(b)(viii)(f) and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) requirement 40 CFR 761.65(b)(i) concerning the draining and flushing of combustible/flammable liquids. Specifically, the EPA requires that processing and storage facilities for PCBs be located inside enclosed structures to avoid exposure to weather, with specially-designed steel floors to properly drain spills, while OSHA requires that transfer of combustible/flammable liquids - diesel fuel in this case - be accomplished outside enclosed structures.

According to the applicant, the outside storage tanks used to store the flushed liquid are provided with a continuously-welded steel secondary containment unit that is 30 feet in diameter and 3 feet, 6 inches high. The tanks also are placed on 2-inch x 1/4-inch heavy-duty welded steel grating to allow immediate identification of any leaks from the tank bottom. The secondary containment structure has the capacity to hold 100 percent of the volume of the largest tank within its perimeter plus the volume of water that would be added from a 24-hour rainfall totalling 1.75 inches.

Auxiliary equipment (e.g., pumps and pipeline systems serving the tanks) also is above ground and subject to daily visual inspections. All pumps and disconnect units are within the processing/storage building (the "processing building"), which has a welded steel floor for containment.

For security purposes the facility is located within a fenced, controlled area. The main entry gate to the facility is open during operating hours; during these hours, a security officer is posted at this gate to preclude unauthorized entry. During nonoperating hours, the main entry gate is locked and a security posted at this gate to preclude unauthorized entry. During nonoperating hours, the main entry gate is locked and a security officer is posted at this gate; this security officer also makes periodic patrols of the facility during nonoperating hours. The remaining six gates to the facility are normally locked with a key lock during both operating and nonoperating hours; keys to these locks are contained in a sealed (i.e., "break") box next to each of these gates. During emergency events (e.g., fire or explosion), evacuees will break the seals to these boxes, remove the keys, and unlock the gates to effect emergency egress from the facility. Access to the tank area is controlled, and only authorized personnel are permitted to enter the area.

The tanks, associated equipment building, and surrounding area are inspected by designated inspectors/supervisors for spills, structural integrity/damage (including tank valves and connections), proper grounding, the presence of sparks and open flames/other ignition sources, accessibility and proper space segregation between tanks and notation of liquids in the tanks; these inspection procedures are required as part of the facility's Operating Permit issued by the EPA. These inspections are conducted daily during regular operating periods.

Instead of complying with the standard, the applicant contends that specific safety procedures and engineering provisions used during the draining and flushing operations will provide protection equal to, or better than, the standard. These procedures and provisions include:

1. Personnel involved in draining and flushing operations receive specific, documented training for conducting these operations as prescribed by Appendix 3 ("Training Plan/Section 17, PCB Personnel Training Program"), volume I of the EPA's "Final Approval for Disposal and Commercial Storage of Polychlorinated Biphenyls" (hereafter, the "EPA approval document"); this training includes emergency procedures for the general workforce (e.g., recognizing alarms, notifying designated authorities of the emergency, egressing from the facility), and specialized training for members of the fire brigade in controlling and suppressing explosions/fires. (Members of the fire brigade are volunteers from among Envirosafe's local employees; these employees leave their regular jobs to respond to emergencies.) The EPA issued this approval document under permit number IDD073114654, September 20. 1991. Copies of training plans, including training plans for emergency procedures used by the general workforce and the fire brigade, may be obtained from Envirosafe at the address listed above in the first paragraph under NOTICE OF APPLICATION.

During emergency events involving PCB contamination, emergency personnel are required to wear chemical-protective clothing (i.e., polyethylene-coated coveralls, pvc or composite-rubber gloves, and full-face, fitted respirators).

Every employee at the facility has access to either the internal telephone system or a two-way radio that can be used to communicate the occurrence of a fire or explosion to the Emergency Coordinator located in the supervisor's trailer at the north end of the facility site. The Emergency Coordinator determines the correct emergency response, and initiates this emergency response by manually activating the appropriate combination of falcon horns, sirens, and/or alarm horn/strobelight sets. Using predetermined routes, all nonessential employees are evacuated from the immediate fire/explosion area to designated assembly areas outside the facility gates. Only authorized (and predesignated) employees are allowed to remain in the fire/explosion area. During regular operating hours, the fire brigade is available onsite to control the emergency event. (During nonoperating hours, the employee who discovers the emergency, usually the security officer, notifies the Emergency Coordinator; after determining the appropriate response, the Emergency Coordinator telephones members of the fire brigade at their homes and directs them to report to the Envirosafe facility.) After the emergency event has been controlled, the decision to reenter the facility can be made only by the Emergency Coordinator; prior to reentry, a tally is made of employees, contract personnel, and visitors.

All employees receive emergency training drills semiannually, during which they practice emergency evacuations. If a power outage occurs during an emergency event, emergency equipment requiring electricity can be operated either through batteries (e.g., two-way radios) or auxiliary power. Copies of the Evacuation Plan covering these activities may be obtained from Envirosafe at the address listed above in the first paragraph under NOTICE OF APPLICATION.

2. To respond to serious emergency events (i.e.,fires and explosions), a fire brigade consisting of specially-trained Envirosafe employees is available during operating hours. Pursuant to the training plan mentioned in the preceding section, members of the fire brigade are trained not only in fire brigade procedures and safety, but in first aid and CPR. Additionally, every employee at the facility receives the following onsite emergency training: Procedures for locating, using, inspecting, repairing, and replacing facility emergency and monitoring equipment; emergency communication procedures and alarm system operation; proper responses to fires, explosions, and spill incidents (i.e., procedures for containing controlling, and mitigating spills), and evacuation procedures. At least two employees who are on duty during regular operating periods are trained in first-aid and CPR.

As described in Table G-4 of Appendix 5 of the EPA approval document, the fire brigade is trained to use dry chemicals or carbon dioxide on small fires, and standard firefighting agents (i.e., foam and high-pressure water) on large fires. The fire brigade is available at the facility during normal operating hours (and on standby status at home during nonoperating hours), and is equipped with a fire truck carrying a foam unit, high- pressure water applicator, and water supply. A storage tank has been installed at the facility to supply a maximum of 16,000 gallons of water during fire emergencies. Employees in the processing building are trained to operate Class ABC 20-pound fire extinguishers, while members of the fire brigade also are trained to use 125-pound Class BC fire extinguishers located outside the building.

3. Operators are supervised during the transfer of PCBs or ignitable materials.

4. Waste-handling (i.e., draining and flushing) areas are clearly marked with signs and routinely inspected (at least once daily during regular operating periods) by designated inspectors/ supervisors to assure that hazardous concentrations of vapors generated by combustible/flammable liquids are not permitted to accumulate in a waste-handling area when ignition sources are present. No meters are used to monitor diesel fuel vapors in waste-handling areas because the vapor pressure of diesel fuel (i.e., 0.4 mm Hg at 68 degrees) is too low to register on commercially-available gas meters or photometric meters (i.e., HNu units) used to monitor volatile vapors.

5. Smoking is not allowed inside the processing building. 6. Hot work permits are required prior to any activity which may generate a source of ignition. Draining and flushing operations do not take place when a work permit is issued for repairs in the processing area.

7. During loading/unloading operations, transportation vehicles containing ignitable substances are secured to prevent movement, and grounded to reduce the potential for static discharge.

8. No ignitable wastes are processed in uncontrolled areas. 9. All pumps, hoses, and connections are checked by system operators for leaks and ruptures prior to operation, and at least once daily during regular operating hours by designated inspectors/supervisors.

10. Direct ventilation is provided during these draining and flushing operations by a well-mounted exhaust fan located adjacent to the processing area; this fan circulates air at 12,000 cubic feet per minute (i.e., 18 air changes per hour), thereby preventing accumulation of diesel fuel vapors inside the building.

11. The processing building is vented by roof-mounted turbine vents.

12. All tanks containing ignitable wastes meet ASTM specifications for ignitables, and are grounded to prevent sparking and potential ignition. For these tanks, discharge valves are fitted with fusible links that close in case of fire emergency.

13. Procedures have been established to minimize, contain, and expeditiously remove any liquid spills (containing PCBs, ignitable liquids, or combinations thereof) which may occur within the facility. In addition to daily inspections for spills conducted during regular operating periods by designated inspectors/supervisors (including monitoring tank volumes for undocumented reductions, all hoses, connections, and valves are inspected by systems operators prior to initiating an operation. Leaking drums are placed in overpack drums. The processing system is provided with a series of interlocks to prevent liquid spills.

Spill-removal procedures vary according to the size of the spill. If the spill is small, the hazardous liquid should be removed using designated sorbents and containers available in the processing area. During removal, the following safety precautions must be observed: Contact with the spilled material is avoided; unnecessary personnel must leave the area; protective equipment (described above in section 1) must be worn; the area must be ventilated; personnel and equipment must be decontaminated thoroughly following exposure (eyewashes and bodywashes are available in the processing area for this purpose); and, technical advice should be sought if necessary. Large spills should be contained using diking materials available in the processing areas. Safety precautions prescribed for controlling small spills should be used in large-spill situations as well. Where there is a high potential for spills, work is performed within diked or curbed areas. If the spilled material escapes, downstream authorities must be notified. A detailed contingency plan for managing spills may be obtained from Envirosafe at the address listed above in the first paragraph under NOTICE OF APPLICATION.

14. The storage tank volume is checked prior to pumping ignitable liquids into a tank to assure that there is adequate volume to receive these liquids.

15. Tanks are checked to assure that the proper tanks are being filled with flushed liquid.

The applicant states that it is confident these operational procedures and engineering provisions are at least as effective as the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.106(b)(2)(viii)(f) in preventing the accumulation of vapors generated from combustible/flammable liquids used in its processing operations, and controlling ignition sources at these transfer sites.

Copies of this application for variance will be made available for inspection and copying upon request at the OSHA Regional and Area Offices listed in the first part of this announcement. All interested parties, including employers and employees, who believe they would be affected by the approval or denial of this application for variance are invited to submit written data, views, and arguments relating to this application no later than November 29, 1993. Under 29 CFR 1905.15, employers and employees who believe they would be adversely affected by the grant or denial of this variance may request a hearing on the application no later than November 29, 1993. Submission of written comments and requests for a hearing should be in quadruplicate, and must be addressed to the Office of Variance Determination at the address listed int eh first part of this announcement.

Signed at Washington, DC this 20th day of September 1993.

David C. Ziegler,
Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor.

[FR Doc. 93-23736 Filed 9-27-93; 8:45 am]