Reactive Hazards: CSB Releases Detailed Data, Demands New Rules

One year ago, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) voted to increase OSHA's and EPS's regulation of reactive chemical hazards.

While neither government agency has decided whether to adopt the board's recommendations, CSB marked the Sept. 17 anniversary by renewing its call for regulations, and by releasing detailed information on the 167 serious chemical incidents analyzed in its 2002 report on reactive hazards.

The data released includes the location, date, and impact of each incident, as well as the names of the companies and chemicals involved when this is available. Information on reported causes is also included for the incidents, all of which occurred in the U.S. between 1980 and 2001.

The reactive incident database is available in text and Microsoft Excel formats from the board's Web site, www.csb.govwww.csb.gov, and also on CD-ROM.

In releasing the database, CSB chairman Carolyn Merritt called for action, "both regulatory and voluntary to better control reactive hazards and save lives by preventing future incidents."

The 167 incidents analyzed in the database killed 108 people, and caused numerous injuries. Merritt noted that since the board issued its safety recommendations last year, reactive incidents have continued to occur.

Over the next several months, the board will be completing investigations on six more reactive incidents that occurred recently in Ohio, New York, Mississippi, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, according to the CSB chairman.

"These incidents had the potential to cause multiple deaths and injuries, yet none of the chemical processes involved was regulated under current process safety rules," asserted Merritt, who was nominated to chair the CSB by President George W. Bush. "New regulations aren't the solution to every safety problem, but in this case there has been a glaring hole since the day the rules were first issued. Federal regulators should act now to close this gap."

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