“Safety Digest” Outlines Responsibilities for Responding to Chemical Incidents
A recent U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board publication on emergency planning and response describes how preparation, training, and communication can help prevent injuries and fatalities from chemical incidents. CSB’s “safety digest” outlines the responsibilities of first responders, companies, and residents during the emergency response to a chemical incident. The document also summarizes relevant findings from four agency investigations, including the 2008 Bayer CropScience pesticide waste tank explosion in West Virginia; the 2013 West Fertilizer explosion and fire in Texas; the 2016 toxic chemical release at MGPI Processing, Inc. in Kansas; and the 2017 Arkema Inc. chemical plant fire in Texas. According to CSB, everyone in a community should be aware of the chemicals used at local facilities and the risks they pose. First responders should have proper hazmat training and equipment; conduct frequent drills and exercise plans to respond to possible chemical releases; communicate with local companies that deal with chemicals; and know key facility contacts in case of emergency. The agency urges communities to maintain current emergency response plans and to train employees to respond to chemical emergencies and evacuate when appropriate. Communities should also have redundant communication systems in place to notify residents of a chemical emergency. The full document is available on CSB’s website as a PDF.