Unipetrol AS is preparing for a gradual restart of its 544,000-tonne/year (tpy) ethylene plant in the Chempark Zaluzi petrochemical complex in Litvinov, Czech Republic, after completing a more than 10-month reconstruction of the steam cracker, which was shuttered following an August 2015 explosion and ensuing fire at the site (OGJ Online, Dec. 7, 2015).
With repair and reconstruction works at the steam cracker now completed and construction of four pyrolysis furnaces nearing an end, the company is now in the process of conducting technological safety tests of the newly rebuilt cracker in preparation for the unit’s return to service, Unipetrol said.
A series of startup tests on individual units at the plant most recently occurred Aug. 30-31, according to Environmental Centre Most for the Ore Mountains, an agency that monitors air quality in the region.
Alongside repairs to existing and construction of furnaces, the steam cracker’s $167.8-million reconstruction program included repairs to damaged chimney flue pipe bridges, wiring, and to the propylene-column safety system; replacement of elements of measurement and control; and isolation and local repair of damaged associated installations.
The reconstruction program follows an internal investigation of the Aug. 13 incident, the results of which led to recommendations and implementation of measures designed to minimize risks of similar incidents in the future, Unipetrol said.
Recently adopted technological measures include installation of new valves in the propylene and ethylene-column safety systems as well as other units that conform to best available control technology standards.
In addition to adopting several organizational measures to increase safety that includes improved procedures for information transmission among operators, the company has developed emergency plans and procedures relating to a variety of potentially high-risk situations.
A project for separation of flammable inventory during an emergency also is now in place.
Unitpetrol said it expects the revamped steam cracker to return to its full production capacity sometime in late October, which is unchanged from a previous timeline revealed to investors in July (OGJ Online, July 28, 2016).
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