I'm seeking thoughts regarding the hazardous classification of a process. I have a customer with an extraction process which uses hexane to extract a petroleum based oil from a plastic. For decades personnel at the plant have felt this aligns with NFPA 36: Standard for Solvent Extraction Plants. I just spoke with an NFPA representative that said since I am not extracting an animal or vegetable oil or fat (which is what NFPA 36 was written for) that I need not comply with it and instead fall under NFPA: Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code.
What she said makes sense, however I cannot get past the fact that my process is that of extraction using hexane. I do not understand why the type of oil being extracted changes how I classify the area as the oil is not the hazard.
I am most concerned with fully understanding this as my customer, since construction of their facility, have followed NFPA 36. The distance at which associated equipment is placed in relation to the extractor is one example of how they've followed NFPA 36. If I am to eliminate the controlled and restricted areas introduced by NFPA 36 and reduce the area considered Class I, Div 1 or Class I, Div 2 I will need to be able to make a strong argument.
Any thoughts on this is greatly appreciated.