Cyber-Security Initiative Now Underway
ARLINGTON, Va. ," In a move to bring the chemical industry one step closer to a secure cyberspace, the Chemical Industry Data Exchange (CIDX) and the Chemicals Sector Cyber-Security Information Sharing Forum launched the Chemicals Sector Cyber-Security Practices, Standards and Technology Initiative. A new business unit within CIDX will focus specifically on cyber-security.
"The Cyber-Security Practices, Standards and Technology Initiative will leverage the CIDX infrastructure, its experience implementing global e-business standards and its position as a voice of the industry' for the chemical sector to drive a rapid and unified response to the critical issue of cyber-security," said Patricia Simmons, CIDX executive director and member of the Chemicals Sector Cyber-Security Program Implementation Team. "Through our preliminary work, we have identified a substantial body of cyber-security practices and standards that already exist. Our focus moving forward will be to establish industry consensus and drive implementation of the mutually agreed-upon standards."
According to CIDX, the newly created business unit will be charged with identifying immediate opportunities to improve the base level of cyber-security performance within the industry. However, its activities will be independent of the XML data standards activities.
"We won't be taking the volunteers that are working on XML projects and have them working on the cyber-security initiative," said Laura Field, a CIDX spokesperson. "Rather, we'll have this separate business unit and a separate group of volunteers dedicated to the task."
The funding for the new initiative also will be new, Field added. Current CIDX members will be charged a new member fee for participation in the cyber-security business unit "so as not to take any money from the XML effort because we don't want it to lose any momentum," Field clarified.
The cyber-security business unit assumes responsibility for two elements of the Chemicals Sector Cyber-Security Program: establishing sector practices and standards and encouraging acceleration of improved security technology and solutions development. And the participation of member volunteers will be integral to achieving these goals.
Much of the initial work will consist of assessment activities, including "a lot of the communications activities between these individual volunteers, what they bring to the table as representatives of their companies, how they share it and what they bring back from the CIDX meeting to their own organizations," Field explained.
At press time, an organizational meeting was scheduled for February 4 through February 5 at the Wyndham Baltimore Inner Harbor Hotel in Baltimore. The goal of the meeting, said CIDX, was to provide an overview of the work completed to date, develop future goals and establish an action plan.
Tool Helps Plants Manage Corrosion
HOUSTON ," Corrosion costs the chemical and related industries more than a billion dollars annually. Essential to successful corrosion management, equipment integrity, process safety and process profitability is the selection of the proper alloys in equipment fabrication.
A recently developed software tool, the ASSET alloy selection system for elevated temperature, can be used to point chemical, petrochemical and other facility operators toward the most appropriate materials for specific corrosive plant conditions. The tool sprung out of a partnership among the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Industrial Technologies, Shell Global Solutions (U.S.) Inc., Oak Ridge National Laboratory and a variety of other interested parties. It now is available through Shell Global Solutions, Houston.
By using the corrosion prediction/ management system, plants stand to slash corrosion-related costs and enhance productivity, said Shell Global Solutions. The initial version assesses potential corrosion mechanisms for 80 commercial alloys exposed to oxidation, sulfidation, sulfidation/oxidation, carburization and other corrosive environments under temperatures ranging from 200F to 2,150F.
"In some senses, [the tool] has been in development in various ways about 10 or 15 years," noted Dr. Randy John, staff research engineer for Shell Global Solutions and the principal investigator on the project. The raw data used in development have been generated over a period of approximately 50 years, he added, coming from Shell, industry projects and both publicly available and privately acquired data sources.
According to John, the tool provides a modern means to perform the old-fashioned, time-consuming aspects of a corrosion engineer's job. Traditionally, he said, the engineer gathers such information by pouring through handbooks and papers, by making comparisons against charts, tables and equations, and by simply relying on a lot of personal experience. The approach is not only time-consuming and resource-intensive, noted John, but also potentially lacks objectivity.
In comparison, the ASSET tool introduces efficiencies ," and adds capabilities ," to a plant's corrosion-fighting arsenal. On the efficiencies side, said John, it provides a "better, faster and cheaper" way to do things plants already are doing.
On the capabilities side, the tool provides a quick way to compare data and to predict corrosion rates for an unprecedented number of alloys under a wide variety of process conditions. Ordinarily, such predictions would require lab experiments or plant monitoring that might last several months or even years, stressed John, or would necessitate a guess or an estimate ," and quite likely an adjustment at a later date. "We can reduce the amount of time it takes to produce a good answer easily from months to hours now," he added.
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.