Alert! Ethylene Gas Vapors can Exhibit Cross-sensitivity

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What happened?

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) has recently published a Safety Alert relating to unplanned releases of different and unrelated gases:

  • 07/18 entitled Ethylene vapors activate Carbon Monoxide alarm. Take action, retreat, and avoid harm!

USCG Safety Alert 07/18

During an examination of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier whose cargo tanks contained ethylene vapors, CO (Carbon Monoxide) gas alarms were received which were traced to an eight-inch crack on a cargo vapor line.

It was noted that the molecular weight of Ethylene (28 g/mol) was identical to the molecular weight of CO, which accounted for the CO PPM readings. Coast Guard personnel contacted the manufacturer who confirmed that gases such as methane, propane, ethylene and mercaptan, could actuate the CO sensor without ever coming into the range of the LEL limits.

As a result of these events the Coast Guard “strongly reminds all surveyors, marine inspectors, port state control examiners, and any other persons utilizing portable gas monitors and detectors while working onboard on Liquefied Gas Carriers to remain acutely aware that the ethylene gas vapors can exhibit cross-sensitivity. This issue is not limited to the monitors that the Coast Guard uses but also those made by other manufacturers. Everyone using a monitor must be aware that if the CO alarm goes off it may be an indication of dangerous gases or chemical vapors and not the presence of CO. When the alarm sounds users must take corrective action to minimize exposure risks.”

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Source: IMCA

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