Safety Impact Of FlashPhos Pilot Plant

Oct 31, 2023

In a chemical production facility, the need to protect workers, the community, and the environment is so obvious that safety cannot just be considered the top priority, it shall become a core value within the organization. “Process Safety” is a management system which controls a wide range of design, operational and cultural activities essential for preventing incidents involving hazardous materials, which are present in the FlashPhos process.

A basic principle that has guided the engineering team since the concept definition stage is the “inherently safe design” approach, brilliantly summarized by British chemical engineering safety expert and author Dr. Trevor Kletz as “what you don’t have, can’t leak”. By means of eliminating, substituting or minimizing the presence of hazardous chemicals, moderating the process conditions or simplifying the process configuration whenever possible, the overall risk of the FlashPhos process has been continuously decreased.

Another safety compass followed by the safety team at FlashPhos – led by Spanish-based consulting company INERCO – comes from the investigation of the Buncefield incident (2005) and the three questions issued by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to all high-hazard industries:

Do we understand what can go wrong?

Do we know what our systems are to prevent this happening?

Do we have information to assure us they are working effectively?


Process Safety Management is a continuous effort and several activities have been performed since the beginning of the FlashPhos Project to ensure we have the answers to those questions, being the main ones:

A HAZard IDentification (HAZID) Study, a multidisciplinary workshop done at an early stage for preliminary detection of main hazards and their required prevention and mitigation measures.

A HAZard and OPerability (HAZOP) Study, also a multidisciplinary workshop at the detailed engineering phase of the Pilot Plant in order to investigate deviations of design conditions and issue recommendations if required.

The assignment of Safety Integrity Level (SIL) to Safety Instrumented Functions (SIF). SIFs are protection layers to automatically achieve a safe state when a hazardous situation occurs.

Management of Change (MOC) procedure, a safety review of the relevant changes after the HAZOP to manage their impact, since design evolves during the Project.

An explosive atmosphere (ATEX) study to fully characterize the sewage sludge.


FlashPhos aims for sustainable phosphorus production and that cannot be achieved without a safe working environment. That is why safety lies at the centre of the Project Team’s core values.




For further information contact

Carlos Baixeras
INERCO, Ingeniería, Tecnología y Consultoría S.A.