In the wake of a December chemical fire that killed one worker and left another with severe burns, Chemical Safety Board (CSB) Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso called for the Environmental Technology Council (ETC) to petition the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to issue a standard for hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities.
The December 17th flash fire at Heritage-WTI, Inc. in East Liverpool, Ohio occurred when workers were splitting a large solid waste drum of hazardous flammable inorganic material into smaller drums.
"Unfortunately accidents at hazardous waste processing facilities are all too common," said Moure-Eraso in a statement. "The CSB investigated a major fire in 2006 at the Environmental Quality Company (EQ), a hazardous waste facility located in Apex, North Carolina, which resulted in the evacuation of thousands of residents for two days. The CSB’s EQ case study found 21 other fire and chemical release incidents at hazardous waste facilities in the United States that occurred from 2002 – 2007. These incidents resulted in two fatalities, 16 injuries, and eight community evacuations, shelter-in-place events, or transportation disruptions."
A 2009 explosion and fire at the Veolia ES Technical Solutions L.L.C. facility in West Carrollton, Ohio occurred when flammable vapor was released from a waste recycling process, ignited, and violently exploded. Two workers were seriously injured in the blast, which damaged 20 nearby residences and five businesses.
A standard developed by the NFPA -- per the CSB recommendation would provide guidance to prevent the occurrence of fires, explosions, and releases at these types of hazardous waste processing facilities.
The CSB also urged the ETC to develop its own guidance document for its members on the safe processing, handling and storage of hazardous waste. Heritage-WTI, Inc as well as all ETC members would receive this document.