Methanol Safety

Operators at advanced waste treatment plants often use methanol as a carbon source, as part of the process to remove nutrients from the wastewater.

Methanol is also known as wood alcohol or methyl alchol. Some important safety considerations are included on NIOSH's
Methanol Safety Card.

Review the Methanol SDS completely prior to use. This one is from NOCO, but have your supplier provide an SDS.

Methanol is highly flammable, and the vapors are explosive. It also reacts violently with oxidants. 

So—methanol is nothing to fool around with.

Wear personal protective equipment per the SDS.

Employees must be trained on the dangers of Hot Work where methanol is used and stored, including gas monitoring. No hot work should be done near methanol holding tanks without a Hot Work Permit.

Two employees died and a third was seriously injured in a 2006 methanol accident at the Bethune Point Wastewater Treatment Plant in Daytona. The accident was so severe, it was investigated by the Chemical Safety Board (CSB).

Here is the Chemical Safety Board's  safety video reenacting the tragic incident. Also, a summary of the CSB Investigation.

Unfortunately, the
State of Florida failed to adopt the CSB's recommendations! Again, just because government agencies may be exempt from OSHA regulations--does not mean that utility employees should be unsafe! Your utility should follow the OSHA rules and CSB guidelines for hot work around flammable chemicals. 

The CSB has a video on Seven Key Lessons to Prevent Worker Deaths During Hot Work In and Around Tanks that all workers should review. In addition, take a look at the Safety Bulletin by the same name.

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