Coast Guard Issues New Regulations Regarding Hazardous Environments

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In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) reaffirms the requirements for using EX rated equipment and also rules that using IECEx equipment is safe. In addition, the USCG has also ruled that ATEX, the European standard is not considered safe for use on rigs.

The new regulations pertain to all newly constructed mobile offshore drilling units (MODU), floating outer continental shelf (OCS) facilities, and vessels other than offshore supply vessels (OSVs) that engage in OCS activities.

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The regulations add to the list of acceptable national and international explosion protection standards and include the internationally accepted, International Electrotechnical Commission System for Certification to Standards relating to Equipment for use in Explosive Atmospheres (IECEx), as a method of testing and certifying electrical equipment to be used in hazardous locations.

The North American EX standard, which follows the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) regulations, will continue to be accepted.

Owners and operators of existing U.S. MODUs that carry flammable or combustible cargo have been given the option of following the new regulations as an alternative to the existing regulations.

This ruling came to fruition as a result of the USCG’s investigation of the MODU Deepwater Horizon explosion, fire, and sinking. Research stressed the importance of the correct electrical equipment within the hazardous locations during the drilling exploration.

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(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Also, as a result of this new regulation, ATEX certification will no longer be acceptable. The ATEX standard does not require independent third party testing for all types of equipment. It also does not ensure that electrical equipment installed in hazardous locations is fully tested to relevant standards.

The new rule takes effect April 30, 2015 with exceptions for existing rigs already operating as well as rigs currently under construction contracts.

Review the full ruling HERE

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