Jan 31, 2006
CSB Deploys Investigation Team to Morganton, North Carolina, Explosion at Synthron Inc. Plant
Washington, DC, January 31, 2006 - The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) is deploying an investigative team to conduct an assessment of the explosion and fire at the Synthron Inc. plant in Morganton, North Carolina, today. The team will gather information to determine if the Board will conduct a lengthier, formal investigation. According to media reports, an explosion struck the plant around 11:30 a.m. this morning, injuring a number of workers who were taken to hospitals. Authorities instructed some residents to shelter in place in their homes by turning off ventilation systems until firefighters could determine whether toxic chemicals were present. The company is a subsidiary of Protex International, a French corporation which manufactures specialty chemicals in the United States, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. CSB Board Member John Bresland said, "This was a serious event, injuring workers, and affecting neighbors, and causing considerable damage to the facility. Our team will conduct interviews, review documents, and examine the site in the next few days in order to determine whether a further investigation in warranted." The CSB team will be headed by Lead Investigator Jim Lay and will include Johnnie Banks, Francisco Altamirano, and Manuel Gomez. The team is being accompanied by CSB Investigations Manager Steve Selk and by Public Affairs Specialist Lindsey Heyl, who can be reached at (202) 725-2204 (cell). 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 safety management systems, regulations, and industry standards. 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 Lindsey Heyl on scene or Sandy Gilmour (202) 261-7614 / (202) 251-5496 (cell) at CSB headquarters.