Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Reader Comment – Clandestine Labs

A reader, Rosearray, left a comment on yesterday’s post about the Hash Oil Extraction Fire in Los Angeles. He notes that there are a large number of fire and explosion incidents associated with clandestine labs and makes the comment that:

“I doubt that any of these incidents are reported by the "proprietors" to any authorities, much less to DHS.”

Richard is, of course, correct. Lab safety, along with quality control and regulatory affairs, are not usually strong points for these illegal labs. What makes the incident in Canoga Park different is that according to the Los Angeles Fire Department reporting on the incident, the fire took place at a legitimate business and the only reason that the lab was illegal was because “it did not adhere to established permitting processes and safety requirements.” This may still fall within the definition of a ‘clandestine lab’ under the ACS reporting system, but I think that the increasing number of these extraction labs supporting legitimate businesses need to be brought under regulatory oversight.

I do not think that this necessarily requires new legislative efforts. Facilities handling dangerous chemicals already fall under regulatory programs at CSB, DHS, EPA and OSHA. What may be more appropriate than new legislation would be a proactive outreach program by existing regulating entities to educate these businesses about their process safety and reporting responsibilities. I know that the CFATS program has an active outreach program, but I suspect that these types of facilities have not yet shown up on their radar.

BTW: Thanks Richard for pointing out the work being done by the ACS Division of Chemical Health & Safety in tracking chemical safety incidents. As a lapsed ACS member I do not have access to this work, but I would love to hear more about the program.

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