Keep an Eye on It: Security for Propane Terminals
In this day and age would you feel comfortable leaving $50,000-100,000 worth of inventory outside in a fenced compound, protected by a rusty padlock? Consider this: an act of vandalism on the property could cause widespread destruction.
Most propane bulk storage terminals fall into this category. Complacency has led many operators to lock the fence at night and go home expecting to find things just as they left them the next morning. Generally, there is nothing stopping an intruder from jumping a fence, cutting a lock and having free run of your local branch which could have 30,000-100,000 gallons of liquid propane on hand. It doesn’t take much skill to open ISC valves and activate pumps either. Whether its deliberate theft or malicious intent, owners and operators need to take a second look at what this kind of activity could cost them not only in loss of inventory, but in terms of liability as well.
Security has come a long way in recent years and there are many products out there which offer ways of keeping a closer eye on your assets. It’s easy to install a stand-alone camera, or put in an alarm system, but these are merely deterrents. Your bulk plant will be much more secure with a properly integrated system that offers peace of mind and the protection you need.
Imagine a worst case scenario: the last person to leave your remote propane terminal forgets to shut the plant down when they go home at night and a major leak occurs at 2:00AM, spilling gallons of propane into open air. This is where our integrated system comes in. It will detect this leak via gas detection, send an immediate notification to your handheld device where you can obtain live footage to assess the situation and sequentially press the e-stop button closing all valves – this is all done remotely from your device. The viewer can gauge the magnitude of the incident and alert first responders, notifying them of the scale of the situation so they are prepared before arriving onsite. This is just one of the many layers of protection that we provide.
Northridge Electric’s propane terminal control systems can bring together all aspects of your bulk plant operations into one convenient package. Access to the facility is controlled by automated gates that require passcodes, card swipes or vehicle tags before entry is allowed. Central offices receive automatic notification when anyone arrives at a remote terminal. Cameras can confirm who is actually there or provide stored video that can be retrieved later. At times there may be service personnel who are allowed into the yard, but are not allowed to load fuel. Multi-level access control makes this easy to monitor. Metering product at smaller terminals which only serve in-house bobtails is not commonly done as it is expensive. Integrating the pumps and valves with a fingerprint reader ensures that only trained authorized operators may dispense product. It also provides a record of who filled up and when. Level monitoring may also be integrated into the control platform and used to provide overfill protection as well as protection from pumps running dry. Control screens which show the status of valves, pumps, run times and other terminal functions are a convenient way of monitoring your terminal at a glance. These screens have the ability to be viewed and controlled remotely as well.
Most importantly, it takes industry knowledge and expertise to properly apply and integrate these security measures. Hazardous locations boundaries, explosionproof hardware requirements and terminal operations must all be taken into consideration.