Monday, September 26, 2022

CSB Deploys Team to Fatal Refinery Incident in Ohio

The Chemical Safety Board announced today that it is deploying an investigation team to the BP Toledo Refinery in Oregon, OH for a fire and explosion that occurred nearly a week ago on September 20, 2022. Initial news reports (here and here) reported that two brothers were killed in the explosion and fire at the refinery. The CSB announcement adds that there was an associated release of sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide.

The CSB has been having problems completing their open investigations, recently reporting on the planned schedule for completing 16 open investigations. While working through these problems the CSB has not initiated any new investigations since July 2021 when the started the investigation into the acetic acid release at the LyondellBasell facility in La Porte, TX.

It is more than a little unusual for the CSB to take six days to decide to investigate a chemical incident. The late start means that they have to rely on other agencies to preserve the scene of the incident for investigators. All sorts of people have probably been at the accident scene. It is surprising how much stuff non-investigators pick up as souvenirs at explosion sites, no telling how much evidence has walked of the site since the fire/explosion last Tuesday.

This raises an interesting question. Did CSB receive additional information (the newly reported chemical release) that made an investigation a higher priority than completing reports? Or was there political pressure applied to the CSB to get them to get back in the investigation game?

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