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Tue Jul 28, 2020, 10:48 AM

A small fed agency focused on preventing industrial disasters is on life support,Trump wants it gone

(Vox) The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board is without enough voting members, and its investigations are stuck in limbo.

It was late in the second shift when workers at a silicone factory in Illinois noticed something had gone wrong. A tank of silicon hydride, used to make water repellent, started foaming and hissing. An operator mixing the chemicals in the tank yelled in frustration. Two of his coworkers came running. A pale yellow haze filled the air. It was hot. None of this was normal.

A supervisor quickly ordered one worker to turn on the exhaust fans and another to open the building’s garage doors, but neither got the chance. Within seconds, the 30,000-square-foot building exploded, rattling homes and businesses within 20 miles of the Waukegan, Illinois, factory. Rescue crews had to sift through the rubble for four days to find each of the bodies.

Four workers died the night of May 3, 2019, at AB Specialty Silicones, including the chemical operator and his boss. Yet the public may never find out what went wrong, and other chemical companies may never learn how to prevent a similar blast. That’s because the small, independent federal agency that investigates chemical disasters is on life support, and the Trump administration wants it to disappear altogether.


The White House hasn’t announced plans to fill the board’s four vacant seats. In fact, President Donald Trump has been trying to do the opposite, pushing to eliminate the board in each of his annual budget proposals — though he hasn’t persuaded Congress to defund it.

Without a quorum, the board will not be able to release the final reports from any of its 13 pending investigations.

The situation creates “a very difficult challenge,” Rick Engler, whose term on the board ended in February, told the Center for Public Integrity. “We continue to have chemical disasters, and the [board’s] recommendations save lives.”

Read More: https://www.vox.com/2020/7/28/21336481/chemical-safety-hazard-investigation-board

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Reply A small fed agency focused on preventing industrial disasters is on life support,Trump wants it gone (Original post)
FM123 Jul 2020 OP
Dustlawyer Jul 2020 #1
FM123 Jul 2020 #2
ProfessorGAC Jul 2020 #3

Response to FM123 (Original post)

Tue Jul 28, 2020, 11:10 AM

1. The CSB has been under-funded and without teeth for years. They can only make recommendations and

findings. Having said that they have been invaluable to being able to resolve the civil cases that arise from these accidents. Our office has worked with them many times and they help to build a knowledge database of best practices for companies to avoid making the same mistakes. We need agencies like this and we need them to have teeth and enough resources to properly do their jobs.

Industry has been trying to kill this agency that they have not had under their control as they do our other regulatory agencies. It is rarely discussed how our regulatory agencies have been co-opted by the industries they regulate. Think EPA, OSHA... and you understand the problem. None of the agencies have the staff or budget to properly do their jobs. They can only react after the fact of a fire or explosion. Our petrochemical industry is supposed to "self report" their violations and problems because there are not enough regulatory employees to do regular inspections.

This is another example of the evils of our campaign finance system. These companies can afford to buy up all of Congress with their donations and support and the results speak for themselves.

Now I must get back to work on the TPC plant explosion case that happened right before last Thanksgiving in Port Neches Texas. This is where 40,000 homes were damaged and those people had to evacuate instead of sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner. This plant had numerous violations prior to the one that caused the explosion because they were apparently maximizing their profit for the Hedge Fund owners.

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Response to Dustlawyer (Reply #1)

Tue Jul 28, 2020, 11:45 AM

2. Thank you Dustlawyer!

Good luck with your case and keep doing what you're doing - we need more folks like you looking out for the little guys....

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Response to Dustlawyer (Reply #1)

Tue Jul 28, 2020, 12:00 PM

3. I Read The TPC Preliminary Report

There's no question in my mind they did not have proper Class 1 Div 1 protections in the entire vicinity of that operation.
Butadiene is highly volatile, and the bond energy creates a combustion release higher than that of gasoline vapor.
It's much heavier than air (in vapor state) and boils at 24°F.
The ignition source had to be close to the release point as the spread would be modest and slow due to density.
They had to have had electrical systems that were underclassed.

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