CSB Continues Investigation of West Virginia Propane Explosion

February 1, 2007

Carolyn W. Merritt, Chairman, U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) issues the following statement Thursday February 1, 2007, at 7:30 p.m.:

"All of us at the CSB express our sincere condolences to the victims and survivors of the propane explosion in Ghent on Tuesday and we pray for the recovery of the injured. At this hour, we have been notified that the West Virginia State Fire Marshal, the ATF, and other agencies have withdrawn from the site. We thank all parties for their cooperation. The Chemical Safety Board is proceeding with its investigation of this tragic accident, and we are working with the facility owner to ensure the security and preservation of the site. The accident raises possible issues of local and national significance, and the community rightly expects a better understanding of just what occurred on Tuesday to cause such a devastating loss of life. The CSB team continues to interview witnesses to the accident and local officials, and we are establishing formal agreements on evidence preservation and testing. We plan to keep the community informed of our progress over the coming weeks."

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 safety management systems, regulations, and industry standards.

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.

Reporters should contact CSB media representative Sandy Gilmour, who is accompanying the team, at (202) 251-5496 (cell) or Director of Public Affairs Daniel Horowitz at (202) 441-6074 at CSB headquarters in Washington.

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