Could My Treatment Plant Be in Danger?

In August 2018, it is believed that a torch set off a methane gas explosion in Cook County’s oldest water treatment plant (Chicago, IL) and injured 10 people. This explosion is a reminder to take necessary precautions during construction to prevent a methane gas explosion.

When working with methane gas, it is crucial to monitor biogas input and output as well as biogas leakage. Some ways to prevent these biogas concerns include designing equipment to ensure biogas will not enter or leave equipment; equipping biogas storage tanks and digestors with safety devices; equipping digestor inlet piping with a check valve; and making sure that biogas doesn’t leak out during steam dumps.

It is also important to focus on piping when working to prevent biogas issues. Biogas and substrate piping need to be separated. Another key step in preventing biogas issues is testing the piping before first use and making sure it is airtight. You’ll also want to be sure the piping is easily accessible, flows upstream, sits on a slope, and should not go out of confined spaces. Security valves should be placed upstream and the systems that trigger these security valves should be easily accessible.

Not sure if your treatment plant is safe? Contact Commonwealth Engineers to discuss the safety and maintenance of your plant. We can help connect you with your equipment vendors and make sure inspections are up to date. Contact Al Stong for more information.