24 CFR Appendix II to Subpart C of Part 51, Development of Standards; Calculation Methods

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Appendix II to Subpart C of Part 51 - Development of Standards; Calculation Methods
I. Background Information Concerning the Standards

(a)Thermal Radiation:

(1)Introduction. Flammable products stored in above ground containers represent a definite, potential threat to human life and structures in the event of fire. The resulting fireball emits thermal radiation which is absorbed by the surroundings. Combustible structures, such as wooden houses, may be ignited by the thermal radiation being emitted. The radiation can cause severe burn, injuries and even death to exposed persons some distance away from the site of the fire.

(2)Criteria for Acceptable Separation Distance (ASD). Wooden buildings, window drapes and trees generally ignite spontaneously when exposed for a relatively long period of time to thermal radiation levels of approximately 10,000 Btu/hr. sq. ft. It will take 15 to 20 minutes for a building to ignite at that degree of thermal intensity. Since the reasonable response time for fire fighting units in urbanized areas is approximately five to ten minutes, a standard of 10,000 BTU/hr. sq. ft. is considered an acceptable level of thermal radiation for buildings.

People in outdoor areas exposed to a thermal radiation flux level of approximately 1,500 Btu/ft 2 hr will suffer intolerable pain after 15 seconds. Longer exposure causes blistering, permanent skin damage, and even death. Since it is assumed that children and the elderly could not take refuge behind walls or run away from the thermal effect of the fire within the 15 seconds before skin blistering occurs, unprotected (outdoor) areas, such as playgrounds, parks, yards, school grounds, etc., must be placed at such a distance from potential fire locations so that the radiation flux level is well below 1500 Btu/ft 2 hr. An acceptable flux level, particularly for elderly people and children, is 450 Btu/ft 2 hr. The skin can be exposed to this degree of thermal radiation for 3 minutes or longer with no serious detrimental effect. The result would be the same as a bad sunburn. Therefore, the standard for areas in which there will be exposed people, e.g. outdoor recreation areas such as playgrounds and parks, is set at 450 Btu/hr. sq. ft. Areas covered also include open space ancillary to residential structures, such as yard areas and vehicle parking areas.

(3)Acceptable Separation Distance From a Potential Fire Hazard. This is the actual setback required for the safety of occupied buildings and their inhabitants, and people in open spaces (exposed areas) from a potential fire hazard. The specific distance required for safety from such a hazard depends upon the nature and the volume of the substance. The Technical Guidebook entitled “Urban Development Siting With Respect to Hazardous/Commercial Industrial Facilities,” which supplements this regulation, contains the technical guidance required to compute Acceptable Separation Distances (ASD) for those flammable substances most often encountered.

(b)Blast Overpressure: The Acceptable Separation Distance (ASD) for people and structures from materials prone to explosion is dependent upon the resultant blast measured in pounds per square inch (psi) overpressure. It has been determined by the military and corroborated by two independent studies conducted for the Department of Housing and Urban Development that 0.5 psi is the acceptable level of blast overpressure for both buildings and occupants, because a frame structure can normally withstand that level of external exertion with no serious structural damage, and it is unlikely that human beings inside the building would normally suffer any serious injury. Using this as the safety standard for blast overpressure, nomographs have been developed from which an ASD can be determined for a given quantify of hazardous substance. These nomographs are contained in the handbook with detailed instructions on their use.

(c)Hazard evaluation: The Acceptable Separation Distances for buildings, which are determined for thermal radiation and blast overpressure, delineate separate identifiable danger zones for each potential accident source. For some materials the fire danger zone will have the greatest radius and cover the largest area, while for others the explosion danger zone will be the greatest. For example, conventional petroleum fuel products stored in unpressurized tanks do not emit blast overpressure of dangerous levels when ignited. In most cases, hazardous substances will be stored in pressurized containers. The resulting blast overpressure will be experienced at a greater distance than the resulting thermal radiation for the standards set in Section 51.203. In any event the hazard requiring the greatest separation distance will prevail in determining the location of HUD-assisted projects.

The standards developed for the protection of people and property are given in the following table.

Thermal radiation Blast overpressure
Amount of acceptable exposure allowed for building structures 10,000 BTU/ft 2 hr 0.5 psi.
Amount of acceptable exposure allowed for people in open areas 450 BTU/ft 2 hr 0.5 psi.
Problem Example

The following example is given as a guide to assist in understanding how the procedures are used to determine an acceptable separation distance. The technical data are found in the HUD Guidebook. Liquid propane is used in the example since it is both an explosion and a fire hazard.

In this hypothetical case a proposed housing project is to be located 850 feet from a 30,000 gallon liquid propane (LPG) tank. The objective is to determine the acceptable separation distance from the LPG tank. Since propane is both explosive and fire prone it will be necessary to determine the ASD for both explosion and for fire. The greatest of the two will govern. There is no dike around the tank in this example.

Nomographs from the technical Guidebook have been reproduced to facilitate the solving of the problem.

ASD For Explosion

Use Figure 1 to determine the acceptable separation distance for explosion.

The graph depicted on Figure 1 is predicated on a blast overpressure of 0.5 psi.

The ASD in feet can be determined by applying the quantity of the hazard (in gallons) to the graph.

In this case locate the 30,000 gallon point on the horizontal axis and draw a vertical line from that point to the intersection with the straight line curve. Then draw a horizontal line from the point where the lines cross to the left vertical axis where the ACCEPTABLE SEPARATION DISTANCE of 660 feet is found.

Therefore the ASD for explosion is 660 feet

Since the proposed project site is located 850 feet from the tank it is located at a safe distance with regards to blast overpressure.

ASD For Fire

To determine the ASD for fire it will be necessary to first find the fire width (diameter of the fireball) on Figure 2. Then apply this to Figure 3 to determine the ASD.

Since there are two safety standards for fire: (a) 10,000 BTU/ft 2 hr. for buildings; and (b) 450 BTU/ft 2 hr. for people in exposed areas, it will be necessary to determine an ASD for each.

To determine the fire width locate the 30,000 gallon point on the horizontal axis on Figure 2 and draw a vertical line to the straight line curve. Then draw a horizontal line from the point where the lines cross to the left vertical axis where the FIRE WIDTH is found to be 350 feet.

Now locate the 350 ft. point on the horizontal axis of Figure 3 and draw a vertical line from that point to curves 1 and 2. Then draw horizontal lines from the points where the lines cross to the left vertical axis where the ACCEPTABLE SEPARATION DISTANCES of 240 feet for buildings and 1,150 feet for exposure to people is found.

Based on this the proposed project site is located at a safe distance from a potential fireball. However, exposed playgrounds or other exposed areas of congregation must be at least 1,150 feet from the tank, or be appropriately shielded from a potential fireball.

(Source: HUD Handbook, “Urban Development Siting With Respect to Hazardous Commercial/Industrial Facilities.”)
[ 49 FR 5105, Feb. 10, 1984; 49 FR 12214, Mar. 29, 1984]

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