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Emergency Response Investigations Key Findings

Training for emergency responders, including hazardous materials training

Little Propane General Store

Accident Description: Four people were killed and five others were seriously injured when propane vapors from a storage tank ignited and exploded at the Little General convenience store and gas station in Ghent, West Virginia. Propane was used as fuel inside the building, which was completely destroyed.

West Fertilizer Explosion and Fire

Accident Description:  A massive explosion at a fertilizer storage and distribution facility fatally injured twelve volunteer firefighters, two members of the public and caused hundreds of injuries. The CSB found that the West Volunteer Fire Department was not required to perform pre-incident planning for an ammonium nitrate-related emergency, nor were the volunteer firefighters required to attend training on responding to fires involving hazardous chemicals. As a result, the CSB made several safety recommendations to various stakeholders, including the EPA, to better inform and train emergency responders on the hazards of FGAN and other hazardous chemicals.

DPC Enterprises Glendale Chlorine Release

Accident Description: On November 17, 2003, there was a release of chlorine gas from the DPC Enterprises chlorine repackaging facility in Glendale, Arizona, near Phoenix. Fourteen people, including ten police officers, required treatment for chlorine exposure. The release occurred when chlorine vapors from a rail car unloading operation escaped from a system designed to recapture the material, known as a scrubber. Owing to the exhaustion of absorbent chemicals in the scrubber, chlorine gas was released.

Hoeganaes Corporation Fatal Flash Fires

Accident Description: Three combustible dust incidents over a six month period occurred at the Hoeganaes facility in Gallatin, TN, resulting in fatal injuries to five workers. The facility produces powdered iron and is located about twenty miles outside of Nashville.

 

Local emergency planning and community response plans and teams

DPC Enterprises Festus Chlorine Release

Accident Description: On August 14, 2002, a chlorine transfer hose ruptured during a rail car unloading operation at the DPC Enterprises chlorine repackaging facility near Festus, Missouri. The hose rupture ultimately led to the release of 48,000 pounds of chlorine, causing three workers and 63 residents to seek medical treatment.

CITGO Refinery Hydrofluoric Acid Release and Fire

Accident Description: A fire in the alkylation unit at CITGO’s Corpus Christi refinery led to a release of hydrofluoric acid (HF). The alkylation unit makes high-octane blending components for gasoline. One worker was critically burned.

Bayer CropScience Pesticide Waste Tank Explosion

Accident Description: Two workers were fatally injured when a waste tank containing the pesticide methomyl violently exploded, damaging a process unit at the Bayer CropScience chemical plant in Institute, West Virginia.

 

Use of community notification systems

DPC Enterprises Festus Chlorine Release

Accident Description: On August 14, 2002, a chlorine transfer hose ruptured during a rail car unloading operation at the DPC Enterprises chlorine repackaging facility near Festus, Missouri. The hose rupture ultimately led to the release of 48,000 pounds of chlorine, causing three workers and 63 residents to seek medical treatment.

First Chemical Cops. Reactive Chemical Explosion

Accident Description: On October 13, 2002, a violent explosion occurred in a chemical distillation tower at First Chemical Corporation in Pascagoula, Mississippi, sending heavy debris over a wide area. Three workers in the control room were injured by shattered glass. One nitrotoluene storage tank at the site was punctured by explosion debris, igniting a fire that burned for several hours.

Honeywell Chemical Incidents

Accident Description: On July 20, 2003, there was a release of chlorine gas from the Honeywell refrigerant manufacturing plant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The accident resulted in the hospitalization of four plant workers and required residents within a half-mile radius to shelter in their homes. On July 29, 2003, a worker was fatally injured by exposure to antimony pentachloride when a gas cylinder released its contents to the atmosphere. On August 13, 2003, two plant workers were exposed to hydrofluoric acid, and one was hospitalized.

 

Use of an incident command system and the National Incident Management System

West Fertilizer Explosion and Fire

Accident Description:  A massive explosion at a fertilizer storage and distribution facility fatally injured twelve volunteer firefighters, two members of the public and caused hundreds of injuries. The CSB found that the West Volunteer Fire Department was not required to perform pre-incident planning for an ammonium nitrate-related emergency, nor were the volunteer firefighters required to attend training on responding to fires involving hazardous chemicals. As a result, the CSB made several safety recommendations to various stakeholders, including the EPA, to better inform and train emergency responders on the hazards of FGAN and other hazardous chemicals.

 

Conducting emergency response exercises

MFG Chemical Inc. Toxic Gas Release

Accident Description: On the evening of April 12, 2004, a chemical reactor overheated at the MFG Chemical manufacturing plant, releasing toxic allyl alcohol vapor. The resulting cloud sent 154 people to a local hospital and forced the evacuation of nearby residents.  Inadequate emergency response planning by the City of Dalton and Whitfield County was a contributing cause of the injuries and exposures among the public and responders. None of the responding police officers had the proper training or protective equipment to safely enter the toxic vapor cloud. The city had no automated emergency notification system or evacuation plan, and police officers were instructed to drive into the chemical cloud to alert neighborhood residents to evacuate. After the toxic vapor forced the unprotected police officers to retreat, firefighters wearing special breathing apparatus were eventually called in to complete the evacuation.

Little Propane General Store

Accident Description: Four people were killed and five others were seriously injured when propane vapors from a storage tank ignited and exploded at the Little General convenience store and gas station in Ghent, West Virginia. Propane was used as fuel inside the building, which was completely destroyed.

 

Information sharing between facilities, emergency responders and the community

MFG Chemical Inc. Toxic Gas Release

Accident Description: On the evening of April 12, 2004, a chemical reactor overheated at the MFG Chemical manufacturing plant, releasing toxic allyl alcohol vapor. The resulting cloud sent 154 people to a local hospital and forced the evacuation of nearby residents.  Inadequate emergency response planning by the City of Dalton and Whitfield County was a contributing cause of the injuries and exposures among the public and responders. None of the responding police officers had the proper training or protective equipment to safely enter the toxic vapor cloud. The city had no automated emergency notification system or evacuation plan, and police officers were instructed to drive into the chemical cloud to alert neighborhood residents to evacuate. After the toxic vapor forced the unprotected police officers to retreat, firefighters wearing special breathing apparatus were eventually called in to complete the evacuation.

EQ Hazardous Waste Plant

Accident Description: Explosions and fire at a hazardous waste facility forced the evacuation of approximately 16,000 residents from Apex, North Carolina, on October 5, 2006. The incident likely began in the oxidizer section of the EQ North Carolina waste facility, where chemicals such as pool chlorination tablets were stored. The fire was allowed to burn out and the facility was destroyed.

 

Communication during emergencies (including 911 operator communication, interoperability of radios, etc)

Little Propane General Store

Accident Description: Four people were killed and five others were seriously injured when propane vapors from a storage tank ignited and exploded at the Little General convenience store and gas station in Ghent, West Virginia. Propane was used as fuel inside the building, which was completely destroyed.

DPC Enterprises Festus Chlorine Release

Accident Description: On August 14, 2002, a chlorine transfer hose ruptured during a rail car unloading operation at the DPC Enterprises chlorine repackaging facility near Festus, Missouri. The hose rupture ultimately led to the release of 48,000 pounds of chlorine, causing three workers and 63 residents to seek medical treatment.

 

 
 
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