(Washington, DC - August 14, 2003) Investigators from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) are returning to the Honeywell refrigerant plant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana today. This will be the third time in just over three weeks that the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has responded to an incident at this facility. CSB investigators will include yesterday's spill of hydrofluoric acid in their ongoing investigation into two earlier incidents. The acid spill Wednesday morning burned one worker and caused inhalation problems in another. Both were reported hospitalized.
The CSB team is already investigating two other accidents at the facility. The first, on July 20th was a chlorine gas leak that hospitalized eight workers and affected hundreds of residents living near the plant. The second incident, on July 29th, involved a container filled with antimony pentachloride, a corrosive chemical that can burn the skin; irritate the nose, mouth throat and lungs; and cause headaches and nausea. Gas escaped from that container and lead to the death of one employee.
The CSB has already begun a field assessment of the circumstances surrounding the earlier accidents which will possibly lead to a full investigation into the root causes of these incidents. Owing to the presence of chlorine and other hazardous materials at the plant, the Baton Rouge facility is covered under both the Environmental Protection Agency's Risk Management Program (RMP) rule and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Process Safety Management (PSM) standard.
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. CSB investigations look into all aspects of such events, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in safety management systems. Typically, the investigations involve extensive witness interviews, examination of physical evidence and chemical and forensic testing. 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 to prevent future accidents. Further information about the CSB is available from www.csb.gov .
For additional information contact Don Critchfield at 202.494.4517 or Rob Wager at 202.261.7636.