The explosions killed at least four workers, critically injured two more, and destroyed most of the plant. The explosions, which could be heard from miles away, and subsequent fire caused a large public evacuation, cut power to local communities, and closed an interstate highway.
Eighteen workers were on site when an explosion occurred while employees were reportedly mixing vinyl chloride and vinyl acetate.
CSB Chairman Carolyn W. Merritt is accompanying the CSB investigation team and will serve as the principal spokesperson. "This event had a devastating impact on workers and the public. Our team will begin an immediate investigation to determine the circumstances and will provide additional information as it becomes available," said Merritt.
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. Typically, the investigations involve extensive witness interviews, examination of physical evidence and chemical and forensic testing.