4 March 2014

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Hazardous Installations Directorate (HID) has published Safety Bulletin HID 2 -2014.

The HSE is aware of a number of recent failures of primary containment, caused by Liquid Metal Embrittlement (LME) by mercury. Operators should be aware of the potential for this element to cause cracking in vessels, pipework and equipment, and take suitable precautions to limit the risk.

This safety notice describes the potential integrity hazards relating to the presence of mercury in crude oil, the refining process and some downstream industries. The element is increasingly present in crude oil feedstock and contaminates parts of the process in varying degrees. Some metallurgies are known to be vulnerable to cracking when exposed to mercury, so precautions need to be taken to ensure that the processing plant is not at risk.

Note:

this Safety Notice is purely concerned with the mechanical integrity issues for process plant and does not consider the occupational health aspects of exposure to mercury liquid or vapour.