The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is deploying an investigation team to the site of an anhydrous ammonia release that occurred earlier this week at Tanner Industries, located south of Swansea, South Carolina, the agency announced.
According to media reports a woman driving her car near the facility was overcome by the ammonia vapor and was fatally injured. Seven other individuals were taken to a local hospital for what were thought to be non-life threatening injuries.
Ammonia is a strong irritant that affects the respiratory system. It is a chemical used in a variety of industries, including the manufacture of fertilizers and in commercial refrigeration systems.
The CSB team will be headed by Investigation Supervisor Robert Hall, PE. Board Member William E. Wright will accompany the team and act as the chief spokesperson.
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.