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Gas depots

Sector's classified installations

Nomenclature sections: 1136 for ammonia - 1138 for chlorine - 1131 for other toxic products - 1416 for hydrogen - 1412 for LFGs - 1418 for acetylene.

Standard orders: 1131 - 1136 - 1412 - 1416 - 1418.

Classified Installations Legislation references

Legislation specific to SEVESO sites, including the amended order of 10 May 2000
Legislation on Pressure Equipment
Chlorine: ministerial order of 23/07/1977 (storage of over 18 tons) and its revised Circular of 29 October 2004
LFG: order of 9 November 1972 relative to the layout and operation of liquefied hydrocarbon depots, order of 9 November 1989 relative to the distancing conditions to which the permit authorisation for new liquefied flammable gas tanks is subject, order of 10 May 1993 relative to the storage of liquefied flammable gases under pressure etc.

Context, issues and problems

Gas depots can be found at all levels of our day-to-day life, for example:

  • in heavy industries, for example in the major intermediate players of the refinery, petrochemical or chemical sectors, most of the time in the form of compressed, liquefied or dissolved gas storage or cryogenic storage;
  • in the retail industry, and even more so in the individual’s home, in the form of compressed, liquefied or dissolved gas bottles.

- Depending on the nature of the gases stored, the facility can be subject to the legislation on classified installations in order to protect the interests referred to in article L 511-1 of the Environmental code.

2Main risks2

This type of storage, notably the largest ones as in refineries, involves nearly all kinds of risks or nuisances (accidental risks, toxic and health risks etc.) for which the Inspectorate demands a response in proportion with the issues at stake.

Depending on their nature, these gases stored in liquid or gaseous form can have:

  • combustible (propane, butane, hydrogen etc.) or combustive properties (oxygen), thereby posing a risk of fire or explosion (UVCE, BLEVE, flare fire, projection effects etc.),
  • toxic characteristics (ammonia, hydrofluoric acid, chlorine, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide etc.), thereby posing, in case of inhalation, a risk of poisoning, the seriousness of which depends on the dose absorbed, taking into account the concentration and exposure time (or, depending on the toxic gas, the threshold values of irreversible and lethal effects).

These gases can also be simply inert (nitrogen, argon, helium etc.), which does not exclude risks (risk of anoxia, excess pressure effects due to a container bursting, projection effect etc.).

Finally, when stored in cryogenic form, i.e. at very low temperatures (methane, nitrogen, hydrogen etc.), gases can pose burn risks.

2Special case of liquefied flammable gases (LFG)2

LFGs probably constitute the most frequently observed cases.

In order to prevent risks and improve existing situations, the first priority is to reduce the risk at source for which the Inspectorate of classified installations exerts constant pressure on the operators.

Several actions can be mentioned:

  • reduction in volumes to the lowest technically acceptable level,
  • trenching of the tanks,
  • implementation of special types of covering (concrete shells, Texsol fire-resistant covering etc.),
  • improvement in the efficiency of protection equipment (valves, spraying systems etc.),
  • complete change in technology, for example replacement of sizeable storage under pressure by cryogenic storage systems.

Ongoing actions in the sector