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American Plants So Safe, They Don’t Need Protection

05 July 2008

By minimising hazardous atmospheres, American plants have achieved such a high level of safety that a leading engineer there says intrinsic safety protection equipment may no longer be needed.


John Rezabek, chair of the Fieldbus Foundation's End User Advisory Council (EUAC), recently wrote that Intrinsic Safety is ‘Ready to Be Relegated to the ISA Museum of How We Used to Do Things.’ You can read his column at

He says that due to stringent leak detection and repair regulations many American plants no longer have any bonafide Zone 1 areas and that below-grade areas, where heavier-than-air flammables can accumulate, can be minimised. ‘We can avoid installing instruments in the few genuinely Zone 0 areas we still have,’ he writes.

This, plus the emergence of digitally integrated instruments and wireless access to diagnostics are converging to make ‘live maintenance in normally hazardous atmospheres’ a rare occurrence.

He asks his readers: ‘Shouldn’t end users ponder whether the value once delivered by an onshore IS installation is still worth the added complexity, effort and expense?’

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