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Apr 30, 2008

CSB to Hold May 13 Public Meeting in Danvers, Massachusetts, to Consider CAI/Arnel Explosion Final Investigation Report

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Washington, DC, April 30, 2008 - The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) announced that it will convene a public meeting on Tuesday, May 13, 2008, in Danvers, Massachusetts, to review the final CSB investigation report on the causes of the November 2006 explosion at the CAI/Arnel ink and paint manufacturing plant.

The report examines company work practices, state and local licensing and permitting procedures, and state and national fire codes for the safe handling and processing of flammable liquids.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Ferncroft Hotel, North Shore Ballroom, located at 50 Ferncroft Road in Danvers. The meeting is free and open to the public. Members of the public are encouraged to attend and comment on the draft report prior to the Board's consideration. The meeting is expected to conclude at approximately 9 p.m.

On the night of November 22, 2006, a CAI mixing tank containing flammable heptane and alcohol solvents overheated, releasing vapor that filled the building and then ignited at about 2:45 a.m. The resulting explosion and fire destroyed the facility and created a blast wave that damaged or destroyed dozens of nearby homes and businesses in the Danversport neighborhood. As CSB investigators noted at a May 2007 public meeting in Danvers, the building's ventilation system was routinely turned off at night, contributing to the accumulation of the flammable vapor.

The meeting will include a detailed presentation by the CSB investigative team of the findings and conclusions from the agency's investigation. In preparing the final report, investigators examined the accident site; interviewed numerous company personnel, neighbors, and officials; conducted blast modeling and laboratory testing; and examined relevant federal, state, and local regulations and standards.

The investigation team will present new safety recommendations to prevent future accidents for consideration by the Board.

Following the presentation of the CSB report and recommendations, a panel of outside witnesses will describe changes in state and local oversight of chemical facilities that have been proposed or implemented since the explosion. Officials from the state government and the Massachusetts fire services have been invited to testify, along with a community representative.

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 companies, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Please visit our website, www.csb.gov.

For more information, please contact Public Affairs Specialist Hillary J. Cohen at (202) 261-3601.

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5/13/2008
UPDATED 10 p.m. May 13, 2008 - At a public meeting in Danvers tonight, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board voted to approve the draft investigative report and safety recommendations. The report will be posted on CSB.gov in the next several days
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