Washington D.C. October 3, 2022, Today, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) released updates on four of the Agency’s current chemical incident investigations. While the four investigations are ongoing, the updates provide important factual information to the public about the CSB’s work on them.
CSB Interim Executive Steve Owens said, “Providing these investigative updates is an important part of our commitment to transparency and information-sharing. Prior agency leadership had stopped issuing such updates last year, but we intend to release them going forward to help keep the public informed about the CSB’s work to determine the causes of chemical disasters that have adversely affected communities across our country.”
The four investigations addressed by the updates are:
- Fatal Propylene Release and Explosion at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing in Houston, Texas: The January 24, 2020, explosion fatally injured two employees and seriously injured two others. The event damaged hundreds of nearby homes, businesses and other structures. The explosion was fueled by propylene that had inadvertently been released inside an enclosed space.
- Hydrogen Chloride Release at Wacker Polysilicon, LLC in Charleston, Tennessee: The November 13, 2020, incident involved a heat exchanger that cracked and released hydrogen chloride (HCl) at the facility during maintenance activities. The release caused chemical burns to one contract worker. Another contract worker was injured fatally, and two others were injured seriously when they fell from an elevated structure while attempting to escape the release.
- Fatal Double Cone Dryer Explosion and Fire at Optima Belle LLC in Belle, West Virginia: The December 8, 2020, incident, which involved dehydration of a chlorinated isocyanurate compound, resulted in one fatality. The CSB’s update includes extensive background on the process taking place at the facility and the events leading up to the explosion and fire.
- Fatal Liquid Nitrogen Release at Foundation Food Group in Gainesville, Georgia: On January 28, 2021, liquid nitrogen was released from a freezer at the chicken processing facility, resulting in the fatal injuries of six employees and the serious injury of three employees and one emergency responder. The CSB’s update provides an incident description, diagrams of the facility, and details about the installation of liquid nitrogen and operational issues.
Board Member Sylvia Johnson said, “As a Board it is important that we resume releasing information as it becomes available. Sharing these updates is a practice that pre-dates my tenure at the board and one that I am looking forward to reviving.”
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating incidents and hazards that result, or may result, in the catastrophic release of extremely hazardous substances. The agency's Board Members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents and hazards, including physical causes, such as equipment failure, as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.
For further information contact Hillary Cohen, Communications Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 446-8094. Further information about the agency’s public meetings may be found on the CSB website at: www.csb.gov.