Designing a Toxic Shelter: An Art and Science | AIChE

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Designing a Toxic Shelter: An Art and Science

The release of toxic ammonia can pose significant risk to personnel at facilities that handle the material. This risk can be mitigated through the construction and operation of highly effective toxic shelters.

An accidental release of anhydrous ammonia can occur at any facility that handles ammonia. The risks associated with an accidental release of ammonia need to be managed to protect personnel, which is typically accomplished through sheltering in place and/or evacuation.

This article discusses proper toxic shelter design, which must include reliable gas detection, ventilation isolation, and leak-tight boundaries. Other hazards, such as blast and thermal hazards, should also be considered when designing toxic shelters. Personnel should be trained for release scenarios, and an effective fallback plan should be established. Most importantly, a hazard-resistant shelter must be fully functional for its intended use and provide protection to personnel from the applicable process hazards.

An example included in this article demonstrates a highly effective toxic-shelter design and examines a prolonged, severe toxic impact scenario. Calculation results are provided that show the toxic impacts to various parts of the building, including an interior room where occupants would shelter for added protection.

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