CSB Applauds AIChE's Response to Including Reactive Hazard Awareness in College Chemical Engineering Curriculum

April 2, 2012

Houston, TX -, April 2, 2012 – Today at the “2012 AIChE Spring Meeting & 8th Global Congress on Process Safety” in Houston, TX, Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso formally commended AIChE for exceeding the CSB's recommended action resulting from the board’s 2009 investigation report into the fatal reactive chemical accident at T2 Laboratories in Jacksonville, Florida.

As a result of the investigative findings the CSB had called on AIChE to work with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) to include reactive hazard awareness in college chemical engineering curriculum. AIChE proposed changes, which ABET approved in October 2011, to require proficiency in not just reactive chemical hazards but in all chemical process hazards among a broad range of engineering disciplines.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers, a professional association of more than 50,000 members describes itself as providing leadership in advancing the chemical engineering profession.

Chairperson Moure-Eraso said, "The status of the recommendation reflects AIChE’s outstanding response that surpassed the objectives envisioned by the Chemical Safety Board. If future chemical engineers are given the proper educational tools, they will be able to more fully comprehend and better manage the hazards in a chemical manufacturing process.

The CSB final report into the accident at T2 Laboratories concluded that T2 employees did not recognize all of the potential hazards when designing their process for making a gasoline additive. The employees had little to no reactive chemistry experience, though one of them had a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. The report therefore called for improving the education of chemical engineering students on reactive chemical hazards.   The explosion and fire on December 19, 2007, killed four T2 employees and injured four others. In addition, 28 people working at nearby businesses were injured when building walls and windows blew in. Some of those businesses never recovered and shutdown permanently and the blast sent debris up to a mile away damaging buildings within a quarter-mile of the facility.

The CSB’s final report on the accident was approved at a public meeting in Jacksonville in September of 2009; the CSB also released a safety video entitled “Runaway: Explosion at T2 Laboratories” depicting the tragic reactive chemical accident that devastated the facility.

The video is available for viewing and downloading on the CSB’s website as well as the agency’s YouTube channel. Free DVDs can be requested by completing the online request form in the Video Room of CSB.gov.

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 plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website, www.csb.gov.

For more information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen at 202.446.8094





Back to news