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NPCA Aids US Chemical Safety Board Outreach Program Aimed at Disseminating Information
Article Type: Environment and safety From: Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials, Volume 55, Issue 2.
National Paint and Coatings Association (NPCA) is working in concert with the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) to inform members of the hazards associated with many operations present in the paint and coatings industry. CSB investigates industrial accidents and reports on the hazards, causes and preventive measures in hopes that they can be averted from happening again, in any industry. NPCA will be working with CSB's outreach program in getting the word out to our membership.
CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the agency's board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. CSB conducts root-cause investigations of chemical accidents at fixed industrial facilities. Root causes are usually deficiencies in safety management systems, but can be any factor that would have prevented the accident if that factor had not occurred. Other accident causes often involve equipment failures, human errors, unforeseen chemical reactions or other hazards. The agency does not issue fines or citations, but does make recommendations to plants, regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, industry organizations, and labor groups. Congress designed the CSB to be non-regulatory and independent of other agencies so that its investigations might, where appropriate, review the effectiveness of regulations and regulatory enforcement.
The US Chemical Safety Board has published many investigation reports that have a direct impact on the coatings, solvents, lubricants, and paint industry. Several of the current and completed investigations are listed below. Many of the investigations have identified causes, both root and contributing, for the accidents as static electricity, explosive dusts, flammable solvents and tank farms, and welding to name just a few. All of these topics are applicable to our industry.
In November, one year after the massive blast at the CAI/Arnel facility in Danvers, MA, the CSB analysis confirms that heated solvent vapors were the source of the catastrophic explosion. During the early morning hours of November 22, 2006, a powerful explosion destroyed the CAI/Arnel ink and paint manufacturing facility in Danvers. Scores of nearby homes and businesses were damaged, some beyond repair. A number of residents were hospitalized. There were no injuries in the plant, which was unoccupied at the time.
At a public meeting in Danvers in May 2007, CSB investigators presented evidence that on the night of the explosion, a mixing tank containing highly flammable heptane and alcohol solvents overheated due a single steam valve inadvertently left open or leaking, releasing vapor that filled the building and then ignited at about 2.45 a.m. on the morning of November 22. Investigators found that the building's ventilation system was routinely turned off at night to reduce noise in the community, allowing the accumulation of the flammable vapor.
The CAI/Arnel site was originally licensed under state law for just 250 gal of “lacquer” back in 1944, to a company that long since sold the property. During the 62 years that followed, the amount permitted by the license was increased to some 11,500 gal of flammable and combustible substances. State law does not require any safety review or public impact review when a licensee obtains increases in the registered quantity.
The CSB's final report is planned for release at a public meeting in Danvers in April 2008.
For more information on past and ongoing investigations, visit CSB at: www.csb.gov/index.cfm