Washington, DC, Jan. 12, 2006 - The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) is deploying an investigation team to the site of a fatal explosion at a Daytona Beach, FL, wastewater treatment plant. The explosion occurred Jan. 11 as workers apparently were performing maintenance activities at the Bethune Point wastewater treatment plant involving a cutting torch near a tank of methanol, according to media reports. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is highly flammable. The team will conduct a preliminary investigation to guide the Board in determining whether to conduct a larger inquiry.
CSB lead investigator Rob Hall will be joined by investigators Jeff Wanko and Katherine Leskin. CSB recommendations specialist Jordan Barab, who has special knowledge of health and safety issues related to municipal employees, will accompany the team. They are due to arrive in Daytona Beach late tonight and will begin their preliminary investigation Friday morning.
CSB Chairman Carolyn Merritt said, "Apparently the workers were making repairs to a metal roof damaged by the hurricanes last year. Our team will examine the circumstances leading to the tragic accident, which took the life of one worker and severely burned two others, and we'll decide whether to pursue the investigation further."
The CSB investigated a July, 2001, accident at the Motiva Enterprise, LLC refinery in Delaware City, Delaware, in which flammable hydrocarbon vapors from a large tank of spent sulfuric acid exploded as workers performed overhead maintenance with carbon-arc welding equipment. One worker was killed in the tank collapse and eight other workers injured. More than 100,000 gallons of the acid flowed into the Delaware River causing a significant fish kill. (The report may be seen under "Completed Investigations" at www.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 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. Further information about the CSB is available from www.csb.gov.
For more information, contact: Public Affairs Specialist Lindsey Heyl, cell 202-725-2204, or Sandy Gilmour 202-261-7614 or 202-251-5496 (cell). Ms. Heyl is accompanying the investigation team on site.