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Feb 26, 2004

CSB to Present Final Report on D.D. Williamson Explosion at Public Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, Friday March 12, 2004

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(Washington, DC - February 26, 2004) The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has scheduled a public meeting in Louisville, KY, on Friday, March 12, to present the final report into the cause of last yearÂ?s explosion and ammonia release at the D.D. Williamson & Co. plant.

Investigators will present the report to the entire CSB Board for approval. The meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m. at the Galt House Hotel, Fourth Street at the river in Louisville. The public is invited to attend and there will be a public comment period for those who wish to speak. A news conference will follow at 11 a.m.

The CSB report will include investigators' findings, determination of root causes, and several safety recommendations directed at the company and others, aimed at preventing future accidents. The D.D. Williamson incident occurred April 11, 2003, when an eight-foot-tall food additive processing tank exploded under pressure, taking the life of an employee who had worked for five years at the plant and causing extensive damage to the facility, which makes caramel coloring for use in food products such as soft drinks.

The tankÂ?s shell struck a nearby ammonia tank, knocking it off its foundation, resulting in the release of an estimated 26,000 pounds of aqua ammonia (ammonia gas in a water solution) over a five-hour period, forcing the evacuation of 26 residents and requiring 1500 others to remain sheltered in their homes.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency's five board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate (currently there is one seat vacant). CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in safety management systems. Typically, the investigations involve extensive witness interviews, examination of physical evidence, and chemical and forensic testing.

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. Further information about the CSB is available from www.csb.gov.

For more information, contact Daniel Horowitz, 202-261-7613 / 202-441-6074 (cell) or Sandy Gilmour, 202-261-7614 / 202-251-5496 (cell), sandy.gilmour@csb.gov.

 

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