U.S. Chemical Safety Board Applauds New National Fire Protection Association Guidance to Prevent Fires and Explosions Involving Hazardous Materials


Washington, D.C. April 30, 2024 - Today, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) applauded the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) for taking new actions to prevent fires and explosions associated with hazardous materials.

In December 2023, the NFPA published NFPA 401, Recommended Practice for the Prevention of Fires and Uncontrolled Chemical Reactions Associated with the Handling of Hazardous Waste,” which went into effect on December 21, 2023.

The  NFPA developed the new recommended practices in response to recommendations issued by the CSB in several investigations of fires and explosions involving hazardous materials.  

In 2006 fires and explosions at the Environmental Quality Company (EQ) hazardous waste facility in Apex, North Carolina, destroyed the entire facility and  resulted in  16,000 residents being evacuated.  A fire at the facility had spread to a flammable liquid storage area, causing 55-gallon drums of flammable hazardous waste to explode and sending fireballs hundreds of feet into the air.  

Through its investigation of the EQ incident, the CSB found that there had been 21 other fire and chemical release incidents at hazardous waste facilities across the United States in the preceding 5-year span. As a result, the CSB recommended that the Environmental Technology Council work with NFPA to develop a standard specific to hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities. The CSB reiterated this recommendation in 2010 after  the agency investigated an explosion and fire at the Veolia ES Technical Solutions, LLC, facility in West Carrollton, Ohio, in which flammable vapor released from a waste recycling process ignited and violently exploded, injuring four workers and damaging approximately 20 nearby residences and businesses in addition to eight structures at the facility.  

Additionally, in 2011, an explosion and fire occurred at a fireworks storage facility near Honolulu, Hawaii, leased and operated by Donaldson Enterprises, Inc., killing five employees. As a result of its investigation, the CSB recommended that NFPA develop a new standard, or incorporate within an existing standard, best practices for the safe disposal of waste fireworks,  consistent with environmental requirements.

CSB Chairperson Steve Owens said, “Although it took several years, we appreciate NFPA’s efforts to develop this significant document.  It provides important guidance on practices and safeguards necessary to prevent fires and explosions associated with these types of hazardous materials and can help prevent similar incidents in the future.”

CSB Recommendations Specialist Adam Henson said, “NFPA has successfully implemented the CSB’s recommendation – we look forward to continuing to publicize NFPA 401 in an effort to prevent fires and uncontrolled chemical reactions at work sites across the country.”

The CSB’s board members are appointed by the President subject to Senate confirmation. The Board does not issue citations or fines but makes 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, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen at [email protected]


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