U.S. Chemical Safety Board Investigation Team Deploys to Hawaiian Fireworks Storage Facility Explosion Site; Five Fatally Injured

April 14, 2011

Washington, DC, April 13, 2011 – The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has deployed a four-person team to the site of an explosion in a fireworks storage facility near Honolulu, Hawaii. According to media reports, the incident occurred in a bunker used to store confiscated fireworks at Donaldson Enterprises, Inc. on Friday April 8.

Five workers were fatally injured as a result of the incident.  CSB Investigator-in-Charge Don Holmstrom arrived in Honolulu on Sunday to begin gathering information. Upon arrival in Honolulu, the CSB team initiated interviews with eyewitnesses and began documenting site conditions.

The CSB conducts root-cause investigations of chemical accidents at fixed industrial facilities. Root causes include deficiencies in safety management systems and critical factors that would have prevented the accident had they not occurred. Other accident causes may involve equipment failures, human errors, unforeseen chemical reactions or other hazards. The CSB does not issue fines or citations, but does make recommendations to plants, regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), industry organizations, and labor groups. In accordance with its Congressional mandate, the CSB is independent of all other government agencies so that its investigations might, where appropriate, review the effectiveness of regulations and regulatory enforcement by regulators.

The CSB investigative staff includes chemical and mechanical engineers, industrial safety experts, and other specialists with experience in the private and public sectors. Many investigators have years of chemical industry experience.

After a CSB team reaches a chemical incident site, investigators begin their work by conducting detailed interviews of witnesses such as plant employees, managers, and neighbors. Chemical samples and equipment obtained from accident sites may be sent to independent laboratories for testing. Company safety records, inventories, and operating procedures are examined as investigators seek an understanding of the circumstances of the accident.  The CSB’s final reports can be viewed at www.csb.gov.

For more information, contact Public Affairs Specialist Hillary Cohen, 202.446.8094 (on site); Sandy Gilmour, 202-261-7614, cell 202-251-5496.

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