Head of Chemical Safety Board Resigns

We talked about the accusations made against Rafael Moure-Eraso head of the US Chemical Safety Board in a previous post. The accusations and call for resignation date back to March 8th 2015. Rafael Moure-Eraso’s term was due to expire in June and Obama has already nominated Vanessa Sutherland, a lawyer for the pipeline safety office to take over the job so Rafael’s resignation will only move up the time table by a couple of months.

What changes Vanessa Sutherland will make to the office of the Chemical Safety Board have yet to be determined.

 



CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso asked to resign

According to investigator into the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso has doing a terrible job for the past 4 years. He has one year left as chairman but House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has asked for his resignation.

It is alleged that Rafael Moure-Eraso used intimidation, bullying, stonewalling investigations and retaliating against whistle-blowers all of which add up to a toxic work environment that forced several employees to quit. Employees of the CSB are afraid to speak out or take any action that might be perceived by Rafael Moure-Eraso as challenging his leadership or ability to run the CSB effectively.

Rafael Moure-Eraso refused, on several occasions, to produce documents that might prove these allegations citing client-attorney privilege. Darrell Issa has given Rafael Moure-Eraso one week to comply or threatened to subpoena the document and hold him in contempt which would lead to criminal prosecution.

You can read or download the complete document here.

 




CSB to OSHA “UNACCEPTABLE”

We’ve been following Rafael Moure-Eraso’s battle with OSHA for a while now in this blog (See “CSB Chides OSHA on Combustible Dust Standard“, for an example) and it seems that Raphael has stepped it up even more.

According to a memo published late last week, Raphael states the CSB has a  “statutory, Congressionally-mandated task to address the sufficiency of OSHA and EPA regulations. That is a key obligation of the CSB and I intend to continue pursuing this mandate vigorously,” and that OSHA’s response to seven (yes… SEVEN) open recommendations is quite simply “Unacceptable”.

The open recommendations cover the aforementioned combustible dust issues, which accounts for 4 of the 7 recommendations and which CSB has deemed the highest priority as well as the 3 following issues:

-Recommendation to ensure coverage under the Process Safety Management (PSM) standard for atmospheric storage tanks that could be involved in a potential catastrophic release as a result of being interconnected to a covered process with 10,000 pounds of a flammable substance. The recommendation was issued in 2002 following the CSB’s investigation of a 2001 explosion of a poorly maintained, corroded storage tank containing  spent sulfuric acid and flammable hydrocarbons at the Motiva refinery  in  Delaware City, Delaware. A worker was conducting hot work which ignited vapor through holes in the deteriorated tank. 
 
– Recommendation to revise the PSM standard to require management of change (MOC) reviews for organizational changes such as mergers and acquisitions that may impact process safety.  This recommendation, issued in 2007, followed the 2005 explosions and fire at the BP Texas City refinery which killed 15 workers and injured 180 others.     
 
– Recommendation that OSHA issue a fuel gas safety standard for construction and general industry. This recommendation, issued in June 2010 followed two catastrophic accidents that occurred that year: In one, an explosion caused a roof collapse at the ConAgra Slim Jim facility in Garner, North Carolina, killing four workers and injuring 67 others. A worker had been attempting to purge new natural gas piping during the installation of an industrial water heater, resulting in a large release of natural gas indoors. In the other, at the Kleen Energy power plant in Middletown, Connecticut, high pressure natural gas was being used to clean new piping and was released in a congested outdoor area. It  ignited, killing six workers and injuring at least 50.   
Chairperson Moure-Eraso further said, “The Board has called on OSHA a number of times over the past several years to act on this known, insidious hazard that continues to claim the lives of workers and cause enormous damage and loss of jobs. It’s critical that OSHA address the recommendations.”
Read the complete statement by the CSB

CSB Releases New Safety Video on 2011 Explosion and Fire During Fireworks Disposal Activities

From the CSB website:

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CSB - U.S. CHEMICAL SAFETY BOARD -- An independent federal agency investigating chemical accidents to protect workers, the public, and the environment

CSB Releases New Safety Video on 2011 Explosion and Fire that Killed Five Workers during a Fireworks Disposal Operation in Hawaii

January 18, 2013

Investigation Details:
Donaldson Enterprises, Inc. Fatal Fireworks Disassembly Explosion and Fire

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board today released a new safety video depicting the events leading up to an explosion and fire that killed five workers during a fireworks disposal operation in Waipahu, Hawaii. The new video, entitled “Deadly Contract” features a new HD animation depicting highly explosive firework components igniting inside a tunnel-like magazine.

The video, which details the findings and safety recommendations resulting from the Board’s final report, was approved January 17 at a public meeting in Washington, DC. The DEI investigation report concludes that the explosion and fire resulted from unsafe disposal practices, insufficient safety requirements for government contractor selection and oversight and an absence of adequate federal regulations, standards, and guidelines for safe fireworks disposal.

In the video CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso says, “Fireworks have been around for centuries, so we were surprised to learn that there are no good-practice procedures for their disposal. And we also found that the federal government did not require fireworks disposal contractors to demonstrate that they could perform the work safely.”

The April 8, 2011, incident occurred as employees of Donaldson Enterprises, Inc. (DEI) sought shelter from rain inside a storage magazine located in Waipahu, Hawaii, near Honolulu. The storage facility contained government-confiscated, illegally labeled fireworks, which the workers had been dismantling under a subcontract to a federal prime contract. To conduct this work, DEI personnel cut into the fireworks and separated out the aerial shells and black powder – a highly explosive mixture of chemicals used to propel the fireworks into the air. The accumulation of aerial shells and black powder greatly increased the explosion hazard.

The video includes an interview with Mr. Ali Reza, an explosives expert that worked with the CSB on its investigation. In the video Mr. Rezas says, ”As you’re physically breaking up the fireworks…you’re exposing yourself to the black powder. Once you have loose black powder in contact with materials that can create friction, an ignition is extremely likely.”

CSB Investigator Amanda Johnson states, “While the exact ignition source could not be determined, strong possibilities include friction from an office chair rolling over the loose explosive powder on the magazine floor, or a metal spark from a hand truck, which was blown over 100 feet from the magazine entrance when the explosion occurred.”

The final report notes that OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) standard applies to fireworks manufacturing, but not to fireworks disposal work. The investigation determined, “DEI would have greatly benefitted from Process Safety Management (PSM) principles and concepts of inherent safety,” among them, not accumulating large amounts of highly explosive black powder and aerial shells while awaiting disposal.

Investigator Amanda Johnson said, “The CSB found the root causes of the explosion went far beyond DEI’s flawed procedures. For instance, we found there are no federal, state or local codes, regulations or standards that establish safety requirements or provide guidance on proper ways to dispose of fireworks.”

As a result of the report’s findings the CSB is recommending that federal agencies develop a new government-wide safety and environmental responsibility requirement for contractors, and calls for new regulations on the safe disposal of fireworks, a growing problem across the US.

The CSB released its final report and formal safety recommendation at a public meeting in Washington, DC on January 17, 2013.

The video is available to stream or download on http://www.csb.gov and may be viewed on the CSB’s YouTube channel, USCSB (www.youtube.com/uscsb).

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website, http://www.csb.gov.

For more information, contact CSB Communications Manager Hillary Cohen, cell 202 446.8094, or Sandy Gilmour, cell 202.251.5496.

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U.S. Chemical Safety Board | 2175 K Street NW | Washington, DC 20037 | www.csb.gov

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CSB 2012 – 2016 Strategic Plan

From the CSB website:

US Chemical Safety Board Releases 2012 2016 Strategic Plan

July 12, 2012

Washington, DC, July 12, 2012 The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) today released its 2012 2016 strategic plan. The plan is an update of the 2007 2012 CSB Strategic Plan, and includes the CSBs strategic goals, strategic objectives, and associated measures for managing and evaluating agency operations.

CSB Chairperson Dr. Rafael Moure-Eraso said, The CSBs strategic plan contains 13 strategic objectives that enable the agency to work towards its mission of accident prevention. The plan builds on the agencys legislative mandate and includes an updated mission and vision statement.

The strategic plan was approved unanimously by CSB board members and is now posted on the CSBs website and available at http://www.csb.gov.

The CSBs updated strategic plan was developed by interviewing stakeholders in industry, academia, and other government agencies as well as considering public comment, which was submitted to the board for review. As a result the final version of the plan includes a CSB Most Wanted Program that will allow the CSB to focus on outreach initiatives surround key CSB recommendations. In addition, there are measurable objections and the final plan focuses on three main goals. Goal 1:Conduct incident investigations and safety studies concerning releases of hazardous chemical substances. Goal 2: Improve safety and environ- mental protection by ensuring that CSB recommendations are implemented and by broadly disseminating CSB findings through advocacy and outreach. Goal 3: Preserve the public trust by maintaining and improving organizational excellence.

Goal 1 drives the core mission of the agency by ensuring that the CSB selects and completes incident investigations that have the potential to generate recommendations with high preventive impact. It also focuses the agency on developing and completing safety studies with an emphasis on emerging safety issues. Goal 2 focuses on implementing our recommendations and their associated advocacy and outreach. The highly successful CSB safety videos are an important component of the agency information dissemination efforts. Goal 3, on organizational excellence, serves to bind all agency processes using best practice project management. This includes all of the agencys high-performing administration and services functions.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website, http://www.csb.gov.

For more information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen at 202.446.8094 or via email at Hillary.Cohen@csb.gov.


CSB Releases New Safety Video on Inherently Safety Design and Te chnology: “Inherently Safer: The Future of Risk Reduction” Exami nes how Industry Can Eliminate or Reduce Hazards

CSB - U.S. CHEMICAL SAFETY BOARD -- An independent federal agency investigating chemical accidents to protect workers, the public, and the environment

CSB Releases New Safety Video on Inherently Safety Design and Technology: “Inherently Safer: The Future of Risk Reduction” Examines how Industry Can Eliminate or Reduce Hazards

Washington DC July 11, 2012 – The US Chemical Safety Board today released a new safety video that examines the concept of inherent safety and its application across industry; Inherently Safer: The Future of Risk Reduction” stems from the August 28, 2008, explosion that killed two workers and injured eight others at the Bayer CropScience chemical plant in Institute, West Virginia. As a result of ongoing concern regarding the safety of the facility Congress directed the CSB to commission the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to study the feasibility of reducing or eliminating the inventory of methyl isocynanate (MIC) stored at the Bayer plant.

The NAS study explored how the concept of “Inherent Safety” could be applied at the Bayer facility. The NAS panel noted that the goal of inherently safer design is not only to prevent an accident, but to reduce the consequences of an accident should one occur. The elevenminute video features interviews with NAS panel members and staff as well as commentary from the CSB Chair and investigators.

The video is available to stream or download on www.CSB.gov and may be viewed on the CSB’s YouTube channel, USCSB (www.youtube.com/uscsb).  DVD copies of the CSB’s safety videos can be requested by completing the online request form.

In the video CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso discusses the findings from the CSB’s investigation and the catastrophic consequences that the 2008 accident could have had on the surrounding community, “The CSB determined that the explosion at Bayer could have caused a release of MIC into the nearby community. And it raised a question – was there an inherently safer alternative to storing and using this highly toxic chemical?”

The NAS report found that while Bayer and previous owners of the site incorporated some considerations of inherently safer technology, these companies “did not perform systematic and complete inherently safer process assessments on the processes for manufacturing MIC or the carbamate pesticides at the Institute site.” Thus large amounts of MIC, phosgene, and other toxic materials were produced or stored at the site for decades.

The video discusses the four main components of inherently safer design as identified by the NAS study. They are substitute, minimize, moderate and simplify and are described as:

Substitute: replacing one material with another that is less hazardous

Minimize: reducing the amount of hazardous material in the process

Moderate: using less hazardous process conditions such as lower pressures or temperatures

Simplify: designing processes to be less complicated, and therefore less prone to failure.

The video includes an interview with industry expert Dennis Hendershot, “Inherently safer design is a philosophy for design and operation of any technology, including chemical processing.  It’s not a specific technology or a set of tools and activities, but it’s really an approach to design and it’s a way of thinking.”

On March 18, 2011, Bayer announced that it would not seek to restart MIC production at the plant and would end the manufacturing of carbamate pesticides deemed hazardous by the World Health Organization. The Bayer plant no longer produces or stores MIC.  But the CSB believes the NAS study and other publications illustrate how the chemical industry could benefit from incorporating the principles of inherently safer design into making decisions – decisions which will satisfy the interests of chemical companies, workers, and members of the communities near their plants.

The video concludes with a call from CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso for industry to look towards the future, “The principles of inherently safer processing can be an effective way for chemical companies to eliminate or reduce hazards, prevent accidents, and protect nearby communities.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website, www.csb.gov

For more information, contact Communications Director Hillary Cohen, (202) 261-3601, cell (202) 446-8094 or Sandy Gilmour at (202) 251. 7614.


CSB Deploys Team to El Dorado, Arkansas to Investigate Fatal Hot Work Explosion

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CSB - U.S. CHEMICAL SAFETY BOARD -- An independent federal agency investigating chemical accidents to protect workers, the public, and the environment

CSB Deploys Team to El Dorado, Arkansas to Investigate Fatal Hot Work Explosion

May 22, 2012

Washington, DC May 22, 2012 The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) today deployed a four-person investigation team to El Dorado, Arkansas to determine the cause of an explosion and fire that severely burned and killed three workers.
The accident occurred yesterday, May 21, 2012, mid-afternoon on an oil tank site operated by Long Brothers Oil Company on land the company leased near El Dorado, in the southernmost part of the state. Preliminary information gathered by the CSB indicates workers were conducting hot work defined as any burning, cutting, welding or other operation that is capable of initiating fires or explosions on one of the tanks. The CSB team is expected to begin its investigation on site tomorrow morning.

CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said, This unfortunate tragedy in Arkansas involving the deaths of three workers is the kind of hot work accident that occurs much too frequently. The CSB has investigated too many of these accidents which can be prevented by carefully monitoring for flammable vapor before and during hot work. We have released a safety bulletin and safety video on the hazards of welding or cutting around piping and tanks that have not been tested or monitored to see if they contain flammable hydrocarbons.

The bulletin, released in February 2010, is entitled, Seven Key Lessons to Prevent Worker Deaths During Hot Work In and Around Tanks: Effective Hazard Assessment and Use of Combustible Gas Monitoring Will Save Lives.

The video, Hot Work: Hidden Hazards, is available at www.CSB.gov or at www.YouTube.com/uscsb. It was released along with the final report on the DuPont Buffalo, New York facility explosion and fire that occurred November 9, 2010, killing a contract worker and injuring another. The CSB determined the explosion was caused by sparks in a welding operation taking place atop a storage tank that contained flammable vinyl chloride. While the atmosphere above the tank was tested for flammable vapor, the CSB said a root cause of the accident was the failure to monitor the interior of the tank.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website,www.csb.gov.

For more information, contact CSB Communications Manager Hillary Cohen, cell 202-441-2980 or Sandy Gilmour, cell 202-251.5496. NOTE: Ms. Cohen is deploying with the team and will be on site in El Dorado.

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