Washington, DC May 22, 2012 — The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) today deployed a four-person investigation team to El Dorado, Arkansas to determine the cause of an explosion and fire that severely burned and killed three workers.
The accident occurred yesterday, May 21, 2012, mid-afternoon on an oil tank site operated by Long Brothers Oil Company on land the company leased near El Dorado, in the southernmost part of the state. Preliminary information gathered by the CSB indicates workers were conducting hot work – defined as any burning, cutting, welding or other operation that is capable of initiating fires or explosions – on one of the tanks. The CSB team is expected to begin its investigation on site tomorrow morning.
CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “This unfortunate tragedy in Arkansas involving the deaths of three workers is the kind of hot work accident that occurs much too frequently. The CSB has investigated too many of these accidents which can be prevented by carefully monitoring for flammable vapor before and during hot work. We have released a safety bulletin and safety video on the hazards of welding or cutting around piping and tanks that have not been tested or monitored to see if they contain flammable hydrocarbons.”
The bulletin, released in February 2010, is entitled, “Seven Key Lessons to Prevent Worker Deaths During Hot Work In and Around Tanks: Effective Hazard Assessment and Use of Combustible Gas Monitoring Will Save Lives.”
The video, “Hot Work: Hidden Hazards,” is available at www.CSB.gov or at www.YouTube.com/uscsb. It was released along with the final report on the DuPont Buffalo, New York facility explosion and fire that occurred November 9, 2010, killing a contract worker and injuring another. The CSB determined the explosion was caused by sparks in a welding operation taking place atop a storage tank that contained flammable vinyl fluoride. While the atmosphere above the tank was tested for flammable vapor, the CSB said a root cause of the accident was the failure to monitor the interior of the tank.
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious 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 CSB Communications Manager Hillary Cohen, cell 202-441-2980 or Sandy Gilmour, cell 202-251.5496. NOTE: Ms. Cohen is deploying with the team and will be on site in El Dorado.