As those of you who read my posts on the Lac Megantic disaster where 47 people were incinerated by a “bomb train” that derailed in the middle of town, brakes on trains are complicated and often fallible safety devices. This is how they work: A brake pipe runs the length of the train which supplies air to reservoirs mounted on each of the cars.
In a stinging rebuke to the Environmental Protection Agency, a federal court has called EPA’s delay in implementing the Obama administration’s chemical disaster rule “arbitrary and capricious” and told the agency to implement the rule.
Ever since 9/11 and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, chemical plant security has been a top concern for national policy makers, the petro-chemical industry and the environemental community. But most of the concern has been about the threat of physical attack — bombs, missiles, etc.
An explosion and fire at a chemical plant in Texas this morning left at least two people injured – one with burns so severe he was transported by air to a medical facility for treatment. One person is reportedly missing.
Black Lung is Back: After almost being eradicated in the late 1990, black lung is back, with a vengeance. Epidemiologists at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health say they’ve identified the largest cluster of advanced black lung disease ever reported, according to an NPR story. “When I first implemented this clinic back in 1990, you would see … five [to] seven … PMF cases” a year, says Ron Carson, who directs Stone Mountain’s black lung program.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is one of the federal agencies slated for elimination under the 2019 budget proposal unveiled by President Trump today.
The CSB is an independent agency whose mission is to investigate industrial chemical accidents, determine their causes and make recommendations to plants, regulatory agencies such as OSHA and the EPA, industry organizations, and labor groups about ways to reduce the risk of similar accidents in the future.
The EPA this week proposed a fees rule under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that it says will give the agency the resources it needs to review chemicals for safety.
Under the Frank Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the proposed fees on certain chemical manufacturers, including importers and processors, would provide what the agency calls “a sustainable source of funding” for implementing the amended law.
A great deal of attention about chemical dangers in the workplace gets focused on inhalation as an exposure route, but skin contact – especially via busy hands -- can also result in significant harm to human health. In many cases, skin is a more significant route of exposure than the lung.
A chemical release that sent 140 people to the hospital was caused by a truck driver who mistakenly connected the hose for one chemical to the line for another. The Oct. 21, 2016 incident in Atchison, Kansas also provides valuable lessons in chemical safety, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), which used it as the basis of a case study titled “Key Lessons for Preventing Inadvertent Mixing during Chemical Unloading Operations.”
In the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in August, the water rose so rapidly at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas site that the first combustion occurred less than 72 hours after flooding commenced. The backup generators at Arkema were elevated 2 feet off the ground, but the flooding exceeded 3 feet in the vicinity of the generators.
In short, says the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), the facility was not prepared for such heavy rainfall and such a rapid flood rate. When the floodwaters knocked out power to the plant’s refrigerators, leaving the organic peroxides and volatile chemicals stores at the plant at risk of heating up, Arkema employees moved the peroxides to refrigerated trailers. But the waters kept rising, forcing the evacuation of the workers and ultimately flooding the trailers.