CSB to Hold Public Meeting in Beckley, West Virginia, September 25; Board will Consider Final Investigation Report on Fatal Propane Explosion at Little General Convenience Store

September 10, 2008

Washington, DC, September 10, 2008 - The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) announced that it will convene a public meeting on Thursday September 25, 2008, in Beckley, West Virginia, to review the final CSB investigation report on the causes of the January 2007 propane explosion at the Little General Store in Ghent.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Tamarack Conference Center Ballroom located at One Tamarack Park in Beckley at Exit 45 off of I-77. The meeting is free and open to the public. Members of the public, emergency responders, and others who were affected by the explosion are encouraged to attend and to provide comments prior to the Board's consideration of the final report. The meeting is expected to conclude at approximately 8:30 p.m

On January 30, 2007, four people were killed and five others were seriously injured when propane vapor from an outdoor storage tank ignited and exploded at the Little General convenience store and gasoline station. Propane was used as a cooking fuel inside the building. The explosion leveled the store, destroyed a responding ambulance, and damaged other nearby vehicles.

At the meeting CSB staff will present to the Board the results of their investigation into this explosion. Key issues in the investigation include evacuation procedures for propane releases, propane technician training, hazardous materials training for firefighters, and 9-1-1 emergency call procedures. The presentation by CSB investigators will include a 3-D computer animation recreating the events that led to the tragedy. The presentation will be followed by a public comment period prior to a Board vote on the final report.

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 companies, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Please visit our website, www.csb.gov.

For more information, please contact Public Affairs Specialist Hillary J. Cohen at (202) 261-3601.

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