Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Hash Oil Extraction Fire in Los Angeles

Last week there was a fire at an unusual chemical processing facility in Canoga Park, CA. Two people died and two others were hospitalized in a fire that appears to have been related to the chemical processing of either marihuana or hemp to produce more valuable organic products, possibly CBD or hash oil. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the facility was possibly a marihuana growing facility. The Los Angeles Fire Department reports finding process equipment used in the butane extraction of hash oil that could also be used to extract CBD from hemp.

As medicinal marihuana and recreational marihuana becomes more widely legalized and the use of generally legal CBD products becomes more popular, we are going to be seeing an increase in the number of chemical manufacturing facilities being established to prepare the more profitable refined products from hemp and/or marihuana. Many of the chemical processes involve use flammable chemicals like butane, ethanol, or isopropanol. While many of these facilities are legitimate and legal businesses, their relatively small size will frequently mean that there will be a dearth of safety and regulatory expertise available to the organizations.

There are some interesting potential regulatory issues here. First, if a facility does use the butane extraction technique, the facility could fall under the purview of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program because butane is on the list of DHS chemicals of interest. I wonder if the folks at the CISA Office of Chemical Security have added these types of facilities to their outreach program?

The second deals with chemical incident reporting requirements. Since there were two deaths involved in this particular incident, the Chemical Safety Board was supposed to have been notified by the facility owners within eight hours of the incident occurring. I have no way of knowing if that reporting requirement has been met with respect to this incident, but I would suspect not. Again, many if not most facilities of this type are small, closely held organizations without a great deal of regulatory support.

1 comment:

Rosearray said...

Patrick, the ACS Division of Chemical Health & Safety (DCHAS) posts stories of chemical incidents on a regular basis to Pinboard website, and categorizes them according to various criteria and location. One of the categories used is "clandestine_lab". I did a search and turned up 108 stories in the clandestine_lab category. Most of these make the news because of fires and/or explosions associated with them. I doubt that any of these incidents are reported by the "proprietors" to any authorities, much less to DHS.

Best regards, Richard

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