Methanol Institute releases safety manual

By | June 09, 2009
Posted July 15, 2009

The Methanol Institute (MI) today released a Methanol Safe Handling Manual to be shared across the global methanol distribution chain to increase awareness of the chemical and promote safe handing in order to protect workers, consumers, and the environment. This manual will be accessible to everyone who comes into contact with methanol, from research engineers to shipping managers, from tank truck drivers to plant operators and will be available throughout the world. The manual will also be a valuable resource for emergency first responders looking for information on the physical properties of methanol and incident management. To ensure accessibility, the Methanol Safe Handling Manual has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, and Arabic to reach the broadest possible international audience.

Paul Moschell, President of the Atlantic Methanol Company and Chairman of MI's Product Stewardship Committee, believes that: 'This manual will provide information to everyone that comes into contact with methanol across the globe; it will greatly improve awareness and will save lives.' The Product Stewardship Committee is responsible for methanol health and safety initiatives throughout the supply chain, including education and training on methanol handling.

Methanol is an essential chemical commodity that is used in hundreds of products that touch our daily lives. It is a feedstock for the production of formaldehyde used in building materials and furniture, acetic acid used in plastic packaging and paints, and in a host of other derivatives including windshield wash fluid, refrigerants, adhesives and textiles. Methanol also is used in wastewater treatment plants to remove nitrogen and protect sensitive water aquifers. In addition, methanol is utilized in manufacturing biodiesel fuels and the gasoline additive MTBE. As an alternative fuel, over one billion gallons of methanol was used last year in cars, trucks and buses in China. This year, China will adopt national methanol fuel blending standards to increase the market for methanol fuels across the country. On a global basis, these industries consume over 13 billion gallons of methanol a year, and this manual will promote the safe handling, storage, and disposal of that product.

Methanol is one of the world's most widely shipped chemicals, with as much as 80 percent of the world's methanol transported from one continent to another. From the ports, methanol is stored and shipped out again by barge, rail, and tank truck to distributors and production facilities. Workers along the global distribution chain and in every country that methanol passes through need to be informed about the physical properties and safe handling procedures for methanol, which is the aim of the Methanol Safe Handling Manual.

A Crisis Communication Guidebook will accompany the Methanol Safe Handling Manual, and has been developed in order to assist companies to plan for potential incidents involving methanol. This further promotes safety by preparing companies in the event of an accident, explaining who to contact in an emergency, and how to conduct advance safety drills. The most prominent recommendation of the Crisis Communication Guidebook is for facility operators to meet with local first responders before an accident occurs and work with them ahead of time to understand how to react in case of an emergency.

In addition, the Methanol Institute is now producing a Methanol Safe Handling Video to complement the manual and promote methanol safety awareness. The video will outline major parts of the manual as well as provide first-hand accounts by members of the methanol supply chain, consumers, emergency responders, and government officials on the necessity of understanding the proper handling procedures for the chemical.

The Methanol Safe Handling Manual and Crisis Communication Guidebook are available for free in multiple languages online at the Methanol Institute website,

The Methanol Institute serves as the trade association for the global methanol industry.

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