Washington, DC, October 6, 2006 - The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is deploying an investigation team to begin an assessment of the chemical fire, explosions, and large-scale public evacuation in Apex, North Carolina, site of a hazardous waste facility operated by the Environmental Quality Company.
Media reports indicate that a chemical fire began around 9:00 p.m. on Thursday October 5, 2006, causing a series of additional explosions. An estimated 17,000 residents have been evacuated to shelters and several roads have been closed.
The Environmental Quality Co. is a consolidator and processor of hazardous waste that operates approximately 14 facilities in the U.S., including a facility in Romulus, Michigan, that experienced a major fire in 2005.
The CSB team will be led by investigator Robert Hall, P.E., and will be accompanied by CSB Chairman Carolyn W. Merritt and Board Member William B. Wark, an expert in emergency management. Team members will arrive in Apex this evening and begin their investigative work on Saturday.
The investigators will collect information that will assist the Board in deciding whether to conduct a full investigation of the causes of the incident.
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.
Media contacts: on site, CSB Director of Public Affairs Dr. Daniel Horowitz, (202) 441-6074 (cell); in Washington, DC, Sandy Gilmour (202) 251-5496 (cell) and Jennifer Jones (202) 577-8448 (cell).