Averting volatile chemical and gas disasters with reliable safeguards

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February 3, 2021

Averting volatile chemical and gas disasters with reliable safeguards

Averting volatile chemical and gas disasters with reliable safeguards

The fire aboard the MV X-Press Pearl, which was transporting hazardous chemical cargo, led to one of Sri Lanka’s worst maritime disasters, devastating nearby aquatic life and the island nation’s pristine coast. In its aftermath, the livelihoods of countless fishermen were disrupted as their usual fishing grounds were tainted with chemical waste. Any industry dealing with flammable, explosive chemicals and gases—be it shipping, petroleum, oil refinery or construction—is prone to such calamities.

The consequences of these incidents also go beyond just damage to the environment. For instance, accidents involving gas leaks present the risk of injury or loss of life through respiratory hazards and illness. The only way to prevent such disasters is by adopting early detection and action.

In the case of industrial environments dealing with toxic or combustible gases, a key aspect of early action is availability of gas detect as well as regular calibration and servicing of the safety units installed in vessels, sites, warehouses or transport vehicles.

The accuracy of safety units which warn of potential leaks within such hazardous environments is reliant on whether the standards of testing and servicing these units receive, match those recommended by their manufacturers. Generally, such calibration should be conducted on an annual basis.

Suren Cooke Agencies (SCA) ventured into the realm of safety equipment procurement and calibration by partnering with Riken Keiki, a decade ago. This world-renowned brand has its roots in Japan’s largest comprehensive research institution RIKEN and offers a wide range of products that prevent industrial disasters and keep work environments safe. They include large-scale gas detecting alarm systems, super toxic gas detectors, small-sized personal gas monitors, radiation monitors, oxygen detectors, environmental monitoring instruments used for pollution prevention and healthcare. Riken products are also compliant with global standards such as the Marine Equipment Directive, ISO standards, and International Electro Technical Commission and EU standards.

The provision of valid calibration certificates for safety detectors has also been made mandatory by numerous regulatory bodies and maritime laws.

As the local agent for Riken Kiki, we conduct regular testing and servicing of its safety equipment for global consumers of these products. The team of engineers attached to the Suren Cooke Agencies has undergone comprehensive training provided by product manufacturers to ensure that the calibration and servicing carried out in Sri Lanka aligns with manufacturer’s standards.

In the past, we have handled several noteworthy calibration tasks for Riken clients.

One such instance involved a vessel calling over at the Colombo Port being instructed by Singapore to provide a calibration certificate to ensure it left Sri Lankan waters in compliance with maritime requirements. Subsequently, our teams offered their calibration expertise to ensure the vessel’s requirements were met.

SCA has also assisted in the fumigation of Sri Lankan exports to Australia to guard against quarantine insects prior to them being dispatched to the port. These fumigations require the use of right quantity of fumigants and their careful monitoring to prevent a potential leak. The Riken monitors and detectors are calibrated yearly and are checked and audited by representatives from the Australian Department of Agriculture to ensure fumigation readings align with their standards. Previously, local fumigators had to send their equipment overseas for calibration, but we have now enabled them to do this locally.

Calibration also adds value to industries in different ways, ranging from fulfilling auditing requirements to effecting improvements in overall system efficiency.

More importantly, however, when it comes to safeguarding human life and assets, calibration plays an invaluable role, ensuring every integral safety device performs effectively and reliably.