The stand-alone tool is compatible with the broad family of Microsoft Windows platforms available today, said John. It can be networked or installed on multiple PCs. Shell offers training classes and updating opportunities related to the ASSET tool, he added.
Project partners now are working to develop an enhanced version of the ASSET tool, and the 70 or so companies currently using the tool are encouraged to provide data to augment the databases, as well as "advice to do things more intelligently," noted John.
For additional information related to the ASSET tool, contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EPA Withdraws 'Unworkable' Rule
WASHINGTON ," The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it is withdrawing a controversial rule after receiving thousands of comments and being challenged in court by some two dozen parties. EPA deemed the July 2000 final rulemaking, which revised the agency's Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program under the Clean Water Act, "unworkable."
Congress prohibited the agency from implementing the final rule by denying funding for that purpose (see "In the News" in Chemical Processing's September 2001 issue). In addition, the National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council (NRC) made numerous recommendations for changes to the rule within a June 2001 report. Most notably, perhaps, NRC said that many states lack sufficient data to develop TMDLs for all their impaired waters.
EPA said it would continue to work with stakeholders and the NRC recommendations to improve the TMDL program and to further enhance the quality of U.S. waters.
Preventing Information Erosion
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. ," Every chemical plant has experts who are finely tuned to the nuances of certain pumps, valves or other process equipment, based on years of on-the-job experience. What happens to that knowledge when these experts retire, and new workers come in to take their place?
During a recent presentation, Ben Eazzetta, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Intergraph Process, Power & Offshore, told press representatives and analysts that the chemical industry ," and other asset-intensive industries ," must pay more attention to plant information assets if they are to avoid "information erosion" and its subsequent problems. The presentation was held at Intergraph Process, Power & Offshore's facility in Huntsville, Ala.
Many chemical firms will lose a good deal of their work force during the next decade through retirements, noted Eazzetta. If the industry does not find a way to cull and manage the collective knowledge of these personnel, he warned, they could face big problems ahead in terms of engineering and asset management.
Eazzetta, who worked as an engineer for Exxon before entering the world of technology development, told Chemical Processing that some companies already are taking steps to save valuable information. Reliability centered maintenance provides one example.
"One could look at reliability centered maintenance and say: You're just trying to cut maintenance costs,'" Eazzetta noted. "[But] if I do a certain amount of preventive maintenance, my equipment will run better. Also, it allows me to document why I'm doing things and what the risks are, so that when people come in, they can more quickly understand the importance of this task."
Plants must engage their people in the knowledge retention process to be successful, Eazzetta stressed. For example, personnel with years of experience can work closely with incoming workers to share their knowledge.
Technology tools also can help strengthen knowledge retention and management, said Eazzetta, especially considering that the generation currently entering the workforce fully expects to use the Internet and other technology tools.
During the presentation, representatives of Intergraph Process, Power & Offshore also unveiled the company's new advanced plant design technology, which aims to speed up engineering project execution and reduce costs. The result of a seven-year research & development initiative, the SmartPlant 3D software tool features a database architecture, a rules-based design, global worksharing, design task and drawing automation, real-time clash detection and operating plant support. According to Intergraph, the tool "advances the process, power and offshore industries well beyond today's 3D CAD technology."
Delivery of the tool's current prototype in 2003 is through the "Early Adopter" program, which is slated to begin mid-year. The program provides expertise to help customers prepare for efficient implementation so they can benefit quickly from tool-related productivity advantages and work process improvements. For more information, visit www.intergraph.com/ppo.
Report Lists Estrogen Therapy, Beryllium as Known Carcinogens'
WASHINGTON ," In its tenth biennial Report on Carcinogens, the federal government added steroidal estrogens, broad spectrum ultraviolet radiation, wood dust, nickel, and beryllium and beryllium compounds to its list of "known human carcinogens." All but beryllium and beryllium compounds are newly listed; beryllium and beryllium compounds previously were listed as "reasonably anticipated" to be human carcinogens.
The report recently was released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and prepared by the National Toxicology Program, an arm of HHS that is located at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).
Although these substances have been determined ," through human epidemiological testing or other testing ," to be human carcinogens, said an NIEHS spokesperson, specific dosage or exposure determinations for carcinogen effects have not been determined.
A number of substances also are newly listed as "reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens." They are 2-amino-3methylimidazo[4,5]quinoline; 2,2-bis-(Bromomethyl)-1,3-propanediol (technical grade); ultraviolet A, B and C radiation; chloramphenicol; 2,3-Dibromo-1-propanol; dyes metabolized to 3,3'-dimethoxybenzidine and to 3,3'-demethylbenzidine; methyleugenol; metallic nickel, styrene7,8-oxide; vinyl bromide; and vinyl fluoride.
The listings contained within the report have historically effected changes in industry. For example, said the spokesperson, some industrial chemicals and food dyes have been dropped or greatly restricted. Based on the findings of the latest report, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken steps to add warnings to all estrogen-containing products.