CSB Releases New Safety Video, "Reactive Hazards: Dangers of Uncontrolled Chemical Reactions," Includes Synthron Animation, Three Others

July 31, 2007

Washington, DC, July 31, 2007 -The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) today released a new safety video concerning the dangers of uncontrolled chemical reactions. The video features computerized animations and descriptions of four major reactive chemistry accidents investigated by the CSB, as well as commentary by two prominent chemical process safety experts.

Entitled "Reactive Hazards: Dangers of Uncontrolled Chemical Reactions," the video is being released simultaneously with the CSB's final report on the Synthron accident which killed one worker and injured 14 others in Morganton, North Carolina, on January 31, 2007. The video features a computer animation of that tragedy narrated by lead investigator Jim Lay. The CSB Synthron report is being released at a news conference this morning at 11:30 a.m. in Charlotte, NC.

Other accidents discussed in the video are MFG (Dalton, Georgia); BP Amoco (Augusta, Georgia); and First Chemical Company (Pascagoula, Mississippi).

Reactive hazards include those involving uncontrolled chemical reactions, with significant increases in temperature or pressure. The CSB released a study of reactive hazards in 2002 and made numerous safety recommendations. The agency has investigated several such accidents since that time. The video was made to create a heightened awareness of the dangers of these types of uncontrolled chemical reactions.

The video begins with news footage of the Bhopal reactive chemical accident tragedy of 1984 which killed thousands.

CSB Chairman Carolyn Merritt, whose 5-year term as chair of the CSB expires this week on August 2, said, "Much progress has been made in chemical process safety since Bhopal but deaths and injuries continue to occur from uncontrolled chemical reactions in this country. Significant gaps remain in federal regulations and industry programs to control reactive hazards. It's time to redouble our efforts to prevent these tragedies. We hope the chemical industry will find this video useful in promoting prevention of these kinds of accidents."

Animations of the accidents are narrated by CSB investigators. Also featured in this video is commentary on the recognition and prevention of reactive hazards by Dennis Hendershot, a chemical industry process safety consultant, and Dr. Daniel A. Crowl, a professor of chemical engineering at Michigan Technological University.

The production of "Reactive Hazards" marks the 13th safety video produced by the CSB. The videos may be viewed online in the Video Room of the agency's website, www.CSB.gov. Free DVD copies may also be obtained by filling out a request form on the website.

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 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. You are invited to visit the CSB website, www.csb.gov for more background on the agency.

For more information, contact: Public Affairs Specialist Kate Baumann 202-261-7612.


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