Washington, DC, November 2, 2006 - The U. S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) today issued a Safety Video on the November 5, 2005 nitrogen asphyxiation incident at the Valero Refinery in Delaware City, Delaware. The video includes a computer animation depicting events leading to the accident, and features commentary by Lead Investigator John Vorderbrueggen, Board Member John Bresland, and a field expert.
The CSB video on the accident, entitled "Hazards of Nitrogen Asphyxiation: Fatal Accident at Valero Refinery," is available for streaming or download on www.CSB.gov, and may be ordered on a DVD by filling out a request form on the video player.
The video shows an animated re-enactment of two possible scenarios that led to the asphyxiation of two workers and presents recommendations for the prevention of this accident in the future.
The CSB determined that after the workers discovered a roll of duct tape lying inside a reactor on a tray about five feet below the opening they decided to attempt to remove it with a long wire hook. Repeated attempts by one of the workers to remove the tape were unsuccessful. He entered the reactor and was asphyxiated soon after. Another worker, seeing his co-worker lying on the tray five feet down inside the reactor, quickly inserted a ladder through the opening and climbed inside. He too was overcome by the oxygen-depleted environment and also succumbed.
"This new safety video should be viewed by management and employees of all U.S. oil and chemical plants," said CSB Chairman Carolyn W. Merritt. "Oxygen deprivation is a major hazard and this video will send the message that this hazard must be recognized and properly denoted in facilities."
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.
For more information, contact Sandy Gilmour, 202-261-7614, cell 202-251-5496, or Dr. Daniel Horowitz, Director of Public Affairs, 202-261-7613, cell 202-441-6074.