Washington, DC - March 17, 2003 - Board Member Dr. Gerald Poje told New Jersey state regulators in Trenton today that their new proposed reactive hazards regulation "includes actions in line with the Board's recommendations to OSHA." Reactive hazards are the dangers associated with uncontrolled chemical reactions in industrial processes. These uncontrolled reactions - such as thermal runaways and chemical decompositions - have been responsible for numerous fires, explosions, and toxic gas releases. From 1980 and 2001, 167 serious reactive accidents caused 108 fatalities in the U.S., according to the CSB's reactive hazards investigation.
In September 2002, the Board recommended that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) amend its Process Safety Management standard to better protect workplaces from reactive chemical hazards. A similar recommendation was directed to the Environmental Protection Agency, whose Risk Management Program rule is designed to protect the public and the environment from chemical accidents.
The New Jersey hearing was being held in connection with the state's proposed re-adoption of rules under the Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act (TCPA), a 1985 state law that regulates the safety of chemical plants.
"The number and severity of U.S. chemical incidents manifest the need for public policy and institutions focused on preventing accidents," Dr. Poje told regulators from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. "The TCPA amendments seek to address the risks identified in the CSB Reactive Hazards Report by broadening coverage to encompass substances that pose reactive hazards. The Board also notes that the TCPA makes use of specific objective criteria, such as the heat of reaction to define Reactive Hazard Substance (RHS) Mixtures."
Poje did not endorse the state regulatory proposal but said the Board would follow the process closely and study the comments of other stakeholders. To view Dr. Poje's complete testimony, click here.
The CSB is an independent federal agency whose mission is to prevent industrial chemical accidents and save lives. The CSB investigates accidents and hazards, determines root causes and issues safety recommendations to industry, labor, and other organizations. For further information, contact Daniel Horowitz at (202) 261-7613.