Friday round-up
Jul23

Friday round-up

CSB CHAIRMAN HEADS TO CHARLESTON Rafael Moure-Eraso, chairman of the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board, will meet bright and early Tuesday morning with Kent Carper, president of the Charleston, W.Va., Kanawha County Commission. The subject will be completion of CSB’s final report on the causes of the Bayer CropScience accident as well as board recommendations for increased safety at the plant, which abuts homes and a university, near Charleston. Nearly two years ago an accident at the plant came close to triggering a release of methyl isocyanate (MIC) that was stored above-ground in large quantities at the plant. In a letter last week, Carper blasted the board for the two-year delay. In response Moure-Eraso set up a meeting with Carper for Tuesday in Charleston. In his letter to Carper, Moure-Eraso says the report should be out in the fall. In part, he blames the company for “outright obstruction” through its “misuse” of Homeland Security rules on Sensitive Security Information to block release of accident information. The SSI issue resulted in a congressional investigation and backtracking on Bayer’s part. In his letter, Moure-Eraso would not give Carper an exact date for release of the report but promised that the board will be in Charleston for a public meeting as soon as the report is complete. BUSY WEEK FOR ACCIDENT REPORTS Texas Tech University issued an internal report last week, including six-pages of recommendations for an overhaul of lab safety at the university. The report sprang from a campus investigation of a January 2010 chemistry lab accident that injured a graduate student. Next week, the university says it will release the actual internal report on the cause as well as lessons learned from the accident. Also last week, CSB issued a case study of an accident that occurred at the Veolia ES Technical Solutions LLC facility in West Carrollton, Ohio, a waste treatment plant. Separation of plant processes to encourage greater safety was the primary recommendation, and although the report was based on a treatment plant accident, the message has resonance with any chemical process...

Read More
Friday round-up
Jul16

Friday round-up

CHEMICAL SAFETY BOARD SETS A RECORD Perusing the Chemical Safety Board’s recent investigation reports and other information for a story I am working on, I found a record. The board has completed its investigation and report on the Kleen Energy power plant accident in less than five months. This is board’s fastest investigation and report completion ever. CSB’s goal is to wrap up investigations within a year of an accident, but that is a goal that has proven elusive and often beyond reach as well as beyond the board’s resources. Kleen Energy is one of several natural gas explosions, the board has examined. This one killed six workers at a power plant construction site last February. The report was finalized June 28 at a public meeting run by new CSB chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso. ON THE OTHER HAND… Next month, two years will have slipped by since a deadly accident involving methyl isocyanate killed two workers at the Bayer CropScience plant in Institute, W.Va. and CSB has yet to complete its investigation.  The board did hold a public meeting at Institute last year where board members made results of their preliminary investigation public. But W. Kent Carper, president of the Kanawha County Commission, which includes Institute, is not happy about the delay. In a July 14 letter to the board, Carper writes, “”Despite assurances and promises made by the CSB, no opinions, final conclusions or the promise to meet with the people have yet to take place. I am respectfully requesting the CSB keep their promises. With all due respect, the families and the people in the community deserve better.”  Board officials say they are studying Carper’s letter and will respond soon. TEXAS TECH UPDATE Officials at Texas Tech University told C&EN Friday that early next week–Monday or Tuesday–the university will release an internal report on a Jan. 7 chemistry lab accident on the campus. The accident seriously injured a grad student doing research through a Department of Homeland Security funded contract. On Feb. 9, Texas Tech created a faculty working group to examine the accident as well as management of laboratory safety, the university’s culture of safety awareness, and safety training compliance. The report should be interesting. It is expected to dovetail with an investigation by the Chemical Safety Board, and according to a memo creating the group, best practices at peer institutions may be included in the group’s report. Stay...

Read More
Exploding oil storage sites are “No Place To Hangout”
Apr14

Exploding oil storage sites are “No Place To Hangout”

“No Place To Hang Out: The Danger of Oil Sites” is the title of a new and unusual safety video released by the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board late yesterday. It is the most recent in a string of some 21 CSB safety videos. The videos have been well-received and all of them but this one have been intended to change industrial practices and the behavior of workers, plant managers, and executives, which led to deadly accidents. This time, however, the audience for “No Place To Hang Out” is kids and young adults. Since 1983, CSB says, 36 teenagers and six young adults have been killed while hanging out near rural oil storage tanks, when leaking tank vapor emissions found an ignition source and blew up the tank. The 11-minute video explains what happened last October when the lives of Wade White, 18, and Devon Byrd, 16, came to an end in the blast from an oil tank in rural Carnes, Miss. “This was not an isolated incident,” says CSB’s Hillary Cohen. In the last 7 years, 14 other young people have died standing around unfenced, unsigned oil storage tanks, she says, pointing to a need for warning signs and simple industrial fences as well as an education program in regions where isolated oil tanks are common. Teenagers and adults who were interviewed for the video say it is a common practice in rural areas for young people to socialize at oil production sites. “It’s like our own little sanctuary where we can just be away from everybody,” says Cody Hunt, 18, one of the teens featured in the video. Hunt goes on to warn other teens, “It’s not worth going out and losing your life over it.” The board encouraged the community—especially teenagers who hung out at the tank and knew White and Byrd—to collect material for the video. It even supplied small video cameras for students to interview one another and other community members over the impact of the accident. Speaking for the three-member Chemical Safety Board, Board Member William B. Wark adds, “The Board urges oil and gas production companies, state legislatures, and regulators to ensure that oil and gas tank sites are properly secured and have appropriate warning signs to discourage entry. We also urge parents and teachers to educate teens about the potentially deadly risk from these sites.” CSB also has a work group looking into possible national regulations for these sites, and meanwhile Wark urges the oil industry to step up and voluntarily control these...

Read More