“11 Tips for Handling Hazardous Materials”

Don’t become a target for one of these avoidable citations! Join us on March 29 for an in-depth webinar presented by Meaghan Boyd, a seasoned environmental litigation partner at Alston & Bird, as she discusses best practices for hazardous materials transportation.

You’ll learn:

  • How to identify hazardous materials ahead of transport
  • What type of training is required for people who offer transport of hazardous materials
  • How to determine appropriate packaging, marking and labeling when transporting a hazardous material
  • Penalties for not properly labeling or shipping a “hazardous material”
  • How to apply for DOT special permits
  • “Hot topics” in hazmat transportation, including lithium batteries, that could lead to compliance risks

Save my seat.

Source: BLR


“OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard To Add Two Additional Fit-Testing Protocols”

OSHA Trade ReleaseDOL Logo

U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Office of Communications
Washington, D.C.
For Immediate Release


October 6, 2016
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

OSHA proposes to amend respiratory protection standard to add
two additional fit-testing protocols

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to add two quantitative fit-testing protocols to the agency’s Respiratory Protection Standard. The protocols would apply to employers in the general, shipyard and construction industries.

Appendix A of the standard contains mandatory respirator fit-testing methods that employers must use to ensure their employees’ respirators fit properly and protect the wearer. The standard also allows individuals to submit new fit-test protocols for OSHA approval. TSI Incorporated submitted an application for new protocols for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators, and filtering facepiece respirators.

The existing standard contains mandatory testing methods to ensure that employees’ respirators fit properly and are protective. The standard also states that additional fit-test protocols may be submitted for OSHA approval. TSI Incorporated submitted an application for new protocols for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators, and filtering facepiece respirators. The proposed protocols are variations of the existing OSHA-accepted PortaCount® protocol, but differ from it by the exercise sets, exercise duration, and sampling sequence.

The agency invites the public to comment on the accuracy and reliability of the proposed protocols, their effectiveness in detecting respirator leakage, and their usefulness in selecting respirators that will protect employees from airborne contaminants in the workplace. More specific issues for public comment are listed in the Federal Register notice.

Individuals may submit comments electronically at, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Comments may also be submitted by mail or facsimile; see the Federal Register notice for details. The deadline for submitting comments is Dec. 6, 2016.

This proposed rulemaking would allow employers greater flexibility in choosing fit-testing methods for employees. The proposed rule would not require an employer to update or replace current fit-testing methods, as long as the fit-testing method(s) currently in use meet existing standards. The proposal also would not impose additional costs on any private- or public-sector entity.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit


U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at The department’s Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).

“N95 Day: A NIOSH-Approved Holiday”



Today is the 5th annual N95 Day, which focuses on respiratory protection awareness and proper use of N95 respirators. Here are some ways you can participate:

  • Social media. Look for N95-related information on Twitter (@NIOSH, @NPPTL, #N95Day) Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest as well as the annual N95 Day NIOSH Science Blog. Share NIOSH’s infographics, and be sure to follow ASSE (@ASSE_Safety) and other campaign partners to find free training, resources, and safety tips.
  • Hospital respiratory protection program resources. NIOSH has launched a web page of resources dedicated to hospital respiratory protection programs.
  • Webinars. NIOSH is presenting two webinars this year: 1) The Science Behind Respirator Fit Testing in the Workplace: Past, Present and Future; and 2)  Why Do We Have to Fit Test? And Why Every Year? Although registration is now closed, the agency will post the webinar videos and slides after the event. Check the campaign page for updates.
  • ASSE materials. Check out ASSE’s Tech Brief on ANSI/ASSE Z88.2-2015, Practices for Respiratory Protection and visit our respiratory protection standards page.


“New TSCA Law Starts NOW!”


“For the first time in 20 years, we are updating a national environmental statute,” said President Obama before signing the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act on Wednesday. The president noted that the updated law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which took effect in 1976 “didn’t quite work the way it should have in practice.” That was a vast understatement, particularly in regard to the regulation of existing chemicals. The president pointed out that of the 62,000 chemicals in the marketplace in 1976, only 5 have been banned.

“Five,” said the president. “And only a tiny percentage have even been reviewed for health and safety. The system was so complex, it was so burdensome that our country hasn’t even been able to uphold a ban on asbestos—a known carcinogen that kills as many as 10,000 Americans every year.”

The president added that the new law will do away with an outdated bureaucratic formula to evaluate safety and, instead, focus solely on the risks to public health.

Industry Pushed Hard

The law passed both chambers of Congress with overwhelming, but not unanimous, support. Pockets of resistance remain, particularly regarding the law’s provision allowing federal preemption of state action on chemicals the EPA is reviewing. Nonetheless, the law made it to the president’s desk despite today’s extremely partisan climate in Washington. The president noted that passage of the legislation revived the bipartisan tradition of the early 1970s when Democrats and Republicans came together to pass “those pillars of legislation to protect our air, and our water, and our wildlife.”

The president specifically thanked the American Chemistry Council and S.C. Johnson, both of which “pushed hard for this law,” noting also that the law “gives them the certainty they need to keep out-innovating and out-competing companies from other parts of the world.”

In its statement of support following congressional approval, S.C. Johnson spoke favorably of EPA’s new authority to systematically prioritize all chemicals currently in commerce for safety evaluations.

What’s Next?

The law took effect with the president’s signature.  The major deadlines in the law apply to the EPA. As the EPA sees it, the most immediate effect is on the new chemicals review process. The Agency is now required to make an affirmative determination on a new chemical or significant new use of an existing chemical before manufacturing can commence. For companies that submitted premanufacture notices (PMNs) before enactment, which are currently undergoing review, the new law effectively resets the 90-day review period.

EPA’s other deadlines include the following:

  • Within 180 days, the Agency must publish an initial list of at least 10 high-priority chemicals and 10 low-priority chemicals. Within 3.5 years, the EPA must have 20 ongoing risk evaluations.
  • The EPA must publish an annual goal for the number of chemicals to be subject to the prioritization screening process. The Agency must also keep current and publish a list of chemicals (1) that are being considered in the prioritization process, (2) for which prioritization decisions have been postponed, and (3) that are designed as high- or low-priority chemicals.
  • When unreasonable risks are identified, the EPA must take final risk management action within 2 years or 4 years if an extension is needed.
  • Within 2 years, the EPA must develop any policies, procedures, and guidance necessary to carry out the bill’s requirements with respect to (1) requesting safety data from manufacturers or processors, (2) prioritizing existing chemicals for evaluation of their risks, (3) reviewing new chemicals or significant new uses of existing chemicals, and (4) conducting safety assessments and safety determinations on whether a chemical meets the safety standard. Those policies, procedures, and guidances must be reviewed every 5 years and revised as necessary to reflect new scientific developments or understandings.
  • Within 9 months, the EPA must publish a list of those chemical substances it has a reasonable basis to conclude are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT). Within 2 years after enactment, the EPA must designate as a chemical of concern each chemical substance on the PBT list. Not later than 2 years after this designation, the Agency must promulgate a rule with respect to the chemical substance to reduce likely exposure to the extent practicable.
  • Any confidential business information (CBI) claims to protect the specific identities of existing, active chemicals on the list from disclosure would need to be reaffirmed and substantiated. The EPA must maintain both a confidential and nonconfidential portion of its chemical inventory. Within 5 years of compiling that list of active chemicals, the EPA must establish a plan to review all CBI claims.

Also, the law provides a means for the Agency to collect the money it will need to do all of the above and more. Specifically, the statute allows the Agency to collect up to $25 million a year in user fees from chemical manufacturers and processors in addition to supplements approved by Congress.

The new TSCA law is here.

Source: BLR

“SAFER Systems Unveils Free Chemical Emergency Response Smartphone App. With Real-Time Weather and Traffic Data”

SAFER Mobile Response on the App Store on iTunes 2014-06-26 16-27-15

SAFER Systems Unveils Free Chemical Emergency Response Smartphone App. With Real-Time Weather and Traffic Data

A must-have, “first on scene” tool for every first responder

Camarillo, CA (6/15) – SAFER Systems, the world’s leading chemical emergency response solutions provider, is proud to announce the debut of SAFER Mobile ResponseTM.  SAFER Mobile is a smartphone and tablet supported application that integrates the trusted 2012 Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG2012) with the power of Google Maps™, Google Traffic™, and live weather updates and forecasting.  The app puts crucial data at the fingertips of first responders and emergency services personnel when called to the scene of a hazardous materials incident.  The app is now available for free via iTunes or the Google Play store.

“First responders the world over recognize the ERG2012 as a trusted source for initial protective information and response guidance,” said SAFER Systems President, Allen Edmond. “We’ve taken that static, printed information and brought it to life in the more easily accessible environment of smartphones and tablets. SAFER Mobile Response converts the ERG protective distance charts into visual hazard zones and identifies key points of concern at risk using Google Maps and Google Places.”

“The app takes the widely accepted ERG2012 hazard zone guidance to the next level with real-time weather and traffic data. It will help responders plan their way to the incident scene and identify key municipal amenities at risk,” said SAFER System Vice-President of Sales and Marketing, Bob Gerow.   “SAFER Mobile Response ensures the guide’s crucial information is available, anywhere, anytime.”

SAFER Mobile ResponseTM is just one of the ways SAFER Systems continues to lead in the preparation for and mitigation of hazardous events.  For decades, the company has been one of the most trusted names in chemical facility emergency management with a growing client list that is a who’s-who of the chemical industry and response agencies.

To download SAFER Mobile Response™ visit,, or  For more information visit

About SAFER Systems: SAFER Systems is the leader in chemical emergency response solutions. For more than 30 years, its software has been used by the leading chemical facilities around the globe to assist in preparedness for and mitigation of chemical emergencies.  Among the more than 600 clients of SAFER are Agrium, Bayer, BP, DuPont, Dow Chemical, Dow Corning, ExxonMobil, Honeywell, Monsanto, OxyChem, PCS and Shell as well as leading transportation companies such as BNSF, CSX, Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern, CN Rail and Canadian Pacific Railway.   SAFER’s real-time, consequence assessment software has won numerous awards and is the only product of its kind to use full weather station and gas sensor data with patented algorithms that support source location and release rate estimation.  For more information, visit

Google Maps™ and Google Traffic™ are properties of Google.

CSB Draft Report Finds Deepwater Horizon Blowout Preventer Failed Due to Unrecognized Pipe Buckling Phenomenon During Emergency Well-Control Efforts on April 20, 2010, Leading to Environmental Disaster in Gulf of Mexico

DWH Mercondo Well CSB Investigation


 Report Says Similar Accident Could Still Occur, Calls for Better Management of Safety-Critical Elements by Offshore Industry, Regulators   

 Houston, Texas, June 5, 2014— The blowout preventer (BOP) that was intended to shut off the flow of high-pressure oil and gas from the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico during the disaster on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20, 2010, failed to seal the well because drill pipe buckled for reasons the offshore drilling industry remains largely unaware of, according to a new two-volume draft investigation report released today by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB).

CLICK HERE to access Overview

CLICK HERE to access Volume 1

CLICK HERE to access Volume 2

The blowout caused explosions and a fire on the Deepwater Horizon rig, leading to the deaths of 11 personnel onboard and serious injuries to 17 others.  Nearly 100 others escaped from the burning rig, which sank two days later, leaving the Macondo well spewing oil and gas into Gulf waters for a total of 87 days. By that time the resulting oil spill was the largest in offshore history.  The failure of the BOP directly led to the oil spill and contributed to the severity of the incident on the rig.

The draft report will be considered for approval by the Board at a public meeting scheduled for 4 p.m. CDT at the Hilton Americas Hotel, 1600 Lamar St., Houston, TX 77010.  The meeting will include a detailed staff presentation, Board questions, and public comments, and will be webcast at:

The CSB report concluded that the pipe buckling likely occurred during the first minutes of the blowout, as crews desperately sought to regain control of oil and gas surging up from the Macondo well.  Although other investigations had previously noted that the Macondo drill pipe was found in a bent or buckled state, this was assumed to have occurred days later, after the blowout was well underway.

After testing individual components of the blowout preventer (BOP) and analyzing all the data from post-accident examinations, the CSB draft report concluded that the BOP’s blind shear ram – an emergency hydraulic device with two sharp cutting blades, intended to seal an out-of-control well – likely did activate on the night of the accident, days earlier than other investigations found.  However, the pipe buckling that likely occurred on the night of April 20 prevented the blind shear ram from functioning properly.  Instead of cleanly cutting and sealing the well’s drill pipe, the shear ram actually punctured the buckled, off-center pipe, sending huge additional volumes of oil and gas surging toward the surface and initiating the 87-day-long oil and gas release into the Gulf that defied multiple efforts to bring it under control.

The identification of the new buckling mechanism for the drill pipe ­– called “effective compression” – was a central technical finding of the draft report.  The report concludes that under certain conditions, the “effective compression” phenomenon could compromise the proper functioning of other blowout preventers still deployed around the world at offshore wells.  The complete BOP failure scenario is detailed in a new 11-minute computer video animation the CSB developed and released along with the draft report.

The CSB draft report also revealed for the first time that there were two instances of miswiring and two backup battery failures affecting the electronic and hydraulic controls for the BOP’s blind shear ram.  One miswiring, which led to a battery failure, disabled the BOP’s “blue pod” – a control system designed to activate the blind shear ram in an emergency.  The BOP’s “yellow pod” – an identical, redundant system that could also activate the blind shear ram – had a different miswiring and a different battery failure.  In the case of the yellow pod, however, the two failures fortuitously cancelled each other out, and the pod was likely able to operate the blind shear ram on the night of April 20.

“Although both regulators and the industry itself have made significant progress since the 2010 calamity, more must be done to ensure the correct functioning of blowout preventers and other safety-critical elements that protect workers and the environment from major offshore accidents,” said Dr. Rafael Moure-Eraso, the CSB chairperson. “The two-volume report we are releasing today makes clear why the current offshore safety framework needs to be further strengthened.”

“Our investigation has produced several important findings that were not identified in earlier examinations of the blowout preventer failure,” said CSB Investigator Cheryl MacKenzie, who led the investigative team.  “The CSB team performed a comprehensive examination of the full set of BOP testing data, which were not available to other investigative organizations when their various reports were completed.  From this analysis, we were able to draw new conclusions about how the drill pipe buckled and moved off-center within the BOP, preventing the well from being sealed in an emergency.”

The April 2010 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico occurred during operations to “temporarily abandon” the Macondo oil well, located in approximately 5,000-foot-deep waters some 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana.  Mineral rights to the area were leased to oil major BP, which contracted with Transocean and other companies to drill the exploratory Macondo well under BP’s oversight, using Transocean’s football-field-size Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

The blowout followed a failure of the cementing job to temporarily seal the well, while a series of pressure tests were misinterpreted to indicate that the well was in fact properly sealed.  The final set of failures on April 20 involved the Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer (BOP), a large and complex device on the sea floor that was connected to the rig nearly a mile above on the sea surface.

Effective compression, as described in the draft report, occurs when there is a large pressure difference between the inside and outside of a pipe.  That condition likely occurred during emergency response actions by the Deepwater Horizon crew to the blowout occurring on the night of April 20, when operators closed BOP pipe rams at the wellhead, temporarily sealing the well.  This unfortunately established a large pressure differential that buckled the steel drill pipe inside the BOP, bending it outside the effective reach of the BOP’s last-resort safety device, the blind shear ram.

“The CSB’s model differs from other buckling theories that have been presented over the years but for which insufficient supporting evidence has been produced,” according to CSB Investigator Dr. Mary Beth Mulcahy, who oversaw the technical analysis.  “The CSB’s conclusions are based on real-time pressure data from the Deepwater Horizon and calculations about the behavior of the drill pipe under extreme conditions.  The findings reveal that pipe buckling could occur even when a well is shut-in and apparently in a safe and stable condition.  The pipe buckling – unlikely to be detected by the drilling crew – could render the BOP inoperable in an emergency.  This hazard could impact even the best offshore companies, those who are maintaining their blowout preventers and other equipment to a high standard.  However, there are straightforward methods to avoid pipe buckling if you recognize it as a hazard.”

The CSB investigation found that while Deepwater Horizon personnel performed regular tests and inspections of those BOP components that were necessary for day-to-day drilling operations, neither Transocean nor BP had performed regular inspections or testing to identify latent failures of the BOP’s emergency systems. As a result, the safety-critical BOP systems responsible for shearing drill pipe in emergency situations – and safely sealing an out-of-control well – were compromised before the BOP was even deployed to the Macondo wellhead.  The CSB report pointed to the multiple miswirings and battery failures within the BOP’s subsea control equipment as evidence of the need for more rigorous identification, testing, and management of critical safety devices.  The report also noted that the BOP lacked the capacity to reliably cut and seal the 6-5/8 inch drill pipe that was used during most of the drilling at the Macondo well prior to April 20 – even if the pipe had been properly centered in the blind shear ram’s blades.

Despite the multiple maintenance problems found in the Deepwater Horizon BOP, which could have been detected prior to the accident, CSB investigators ultimately concluded the blind shear ram likely did close on the night of April 20, and the drill pipe could have been successfully sealed but for the buckling of the pipe.

“Although there have been regulatory improvements since the accident, the effective management of safety critical elements has yet to be established,” Investigator MacKenzie said.  “This results in potential safety gaps in U.S. offshore operations and leaves open the possibility of another similar catastrophic accident.”

The draft report, subject to Board approval, makes a number of recommendations to the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the federal organization established following the Macondo accident to oversee U.S. offshore safety. These recommendations call on BSEE to require drilling operators to effectively manage technical, operational, and organizational safety-critical elements in order to reduce major accident risk to an acceptably low level, known as “as low as reasonably practicable.”

“Although blowout preventers are just one of the important barriers for avoiding a major offshore accident, the specific findings from the investigation about this BOP’s unreliability illustrate how the current system of regulations and standards can be improved to make offshore operations safer,” Investigator MacKenzie said.  “Ultimately the barriers against a blowout or other offshore disaster include not only equipment like the BOP, but also operational and organizational factors.  And all of these need to be rigorously defined, actively monitored, and verified through an effective management system if safety is to be assured.”  Companies should be required to identify these safety-critical elements in advance, define their performance requirements, and prove to the regulator and outside auditors that these elements will perform reliably when called upon, according to the draft report.

The report also proposes recommendations to the American Petroleum Institute (API), the U.S. trade association for both upstream and downstream petroleum industry. The first recommendation is to revise API Standard 53, Blowout Prevention Equipment Systems for Drilling Wells, calling for critical testing of the redundant control systems within BOP’s, and another for new guidance for the effective management of safety-critical elements in general.

CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “Drilling continues to extend to new depths, and operations in increasingly challenging environments, such as the Arctic, are being planned.  The CSB report and its key findings and recommendations are intended to put the United States in a leading role for improving well-control procedures and practices.  To maintain a leadership position, the U.S. should adopt rigorous management methods that go beyond current industry best practices.”

Two forthcoming volumes of the CSB’s Macondo investigation report are planned to address additional regulatory matters as well as organizational and human factors safety issues raised by the accident.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website,

For more information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen, cell 202-446-8094 or Sandy Gilmour, Public Affairs, cell 202-251-5496.

CSB Deploys to Elk River Chemical Spill in Charleston, West Virginia

CSB Deploys to Chemical Spill in Charleston, WV

Washington DC, January 11, 2014 – An investigative team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is deploying to the scene of a massive spill into the Elk River in Charleston, WV.

According to local authorities the leak originated from a storage tank at Freedom Industries – the leak of unknown quantity has left hundreds of thousands of West Virginia residents without clean drinking water.

CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “This incident continues to impact the people of West Virginia – our goal is to find out what happened to allow a leak of such magnitude to occur and to ensure that the proper safeguards are in place to prevent a similar incident from occurring.”

The investigative team will be led by Supervisory Investigator Johnnie Banks and is scheduled to arrive in West Virginia on Monday morning.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

For more information, contact Hillary Cohen 202.446.8094 (cell) or Amy McCormick at 202.640.8945.

Freedom Cited After Moving Chemical From Elk River Site

By Ken Ward Jr.

By David Gutman

NITRO, W.Va. — It smells like licorice in the Par Industrial Park in Nitro.

Par Industrial Park is the home of Poca Blending, a subsidiary of Freedom Industries. Under orders from the state Department of Environmental Protection, Freedom used tanker trucks to transport all the remaining chemicals from their facility on the Elk River to Poca Blending, a drive of about 17 miles.

Every one of those trucks went within about 100 feet of the Nitro Public Library. The library, which has been closed since the leak was discovered last week, sits about a quarter mile down the road from Poca Blending.

Lynn Godby, the library manager, was at work on Wednesday morning, beginning the process of flushing the building’s pipes so they could reopen today.

She had no idea that the tanker trucks that had driven by contained 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol from Freedom Industries, or that the chemical was being stored so close by.

“It makes me a little uneasy,” Godby said Wednesday. “You don’t like to think they’re just right down the road.”

On Tuesday state regulators cited Freedom Industries for a broad variety of violations after an inspection of the Poca Blending site. The state Department of Environmental Protection issued five notices of violation, or NOVs, alleging improper storage of materials that could contaminate groundwater, failure to follow a DEP-issued storm water permit, failure to provide required pollution discharge monitoring reports.

Interestingly, the DEP also cited Freedom’s Nitro operation for not having the appropriate “secondary containment” for chemical spills — a problem that regulators have said was a major cause of last Thursday’s spill of “Crude MCHM” into the Elk River.

“Secondary containment within the facility was deteriorated or non-existent,” the DEP said in an inspection report. “The plan indicates that the building itself acts a secondary containment, but holes exist at floor level in the building’s walls.

“The building is surrounded by a trench which catches any runoff from within the building,” the report says. “Closed gates prevent this trench from discharging unless personnel open them, but since there is no method for separating storm water from spillage prior to entering the trench, it does not function as secondary containment.”

The report says that six tanks containing MCHM from the Elk River site are staged on site. It adds, “Construction of a clay berm is planned to provide secondary containment for these tanks, but two are currently placed in a location which would prevent such construction and only one tank is on an impervious surface.”

DEP inspected the Nitro site on Monday and issued the NOVs on Tuesday. The documents were made public on Wednesday.

Agency Secretary Randy Huffman said that DEP’s enforcement and cleanup order had clearly mandated that Freedom Industries take the material from the Elk River spill to a site with proper precautions, including required spill containment.

“It’s a problem,” Huffman said. “They did not follow our order.”

DEP’s order to Freedom Industries did not specify exactly where the material from the Elk River site had to be taken, and Huffman said he did not know for sure when agency officials learned it was being taken to Nitro.

Huffman said the company’s Nitro operation holds a DEP storm-water pollution permit.

Scott Mandirola, director of DEP’s Division of Water and Waste Management, said agency officials inspected the Nitro site in 2004 following an acid spill that the company remediated in 2005.

Late Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced it had opened an investigation at the Nitro site following reports of “potential chemical storage hazards.”

Also released by DEP were records concerning the agency’s response to an odor complaint at the Elk River terminal in April 2010. A resident said the air near the terminal smelled like licorice and left a bad taste in their mouth.

DEP records about that complaint indicate that an agency inspector went to the facility and requested a material safety data sheet, or MSDS, “for the product causing the odor.”

Huffman said that DEP had previously determined that the company, which at the time handled only the material glycol, did not meet the state test for needing an air pollution permit.

During their odor investigation in April 2010, though, DEP inspectors found the company also handling another, licorice-

smelling material, presumably MCHM, officials said.

“Once back at the office, we found out that a permit determination was not completed for this product,” the DEP inspection report shows.

The records say that DEP in May 2010 took the appropriate forms to the site and asked facility manager Roger Arthur to complete them “for any product on site that was not in the first determination.

“On May the 10th, the company came in to review files and to complete the said forms,” the DEP records show. “No further action at this time, but we will need to see what comes out of the determination.”

Huffman said DEP determined the site still did not meet the test for needing an air pollution permit.

Other records released by DEP documented the Jan. 9 odor complaint that led to DEP inspectors discovering the Elk River spill in the first place.

One email record relates one DEP employee forwarding that complaint to another agency worker.

“Hey there,” the e-mail said. “Just received a call from a gentleman that said there is something in the air at the 77-79 split each morning when he comes to work. He said it is coating his wife’s throat. Told him I would give you his contact information. Thanks!!”

Back at the Nitro library on Wednesday morning, Godby said she didn’t know that the chemicals were being stored without any secondary containment wall, in violation of DEP orders.

“Oh, that’s good to know,” she said, sarcastically, when told.

A private security guard escorted a Gazette reporter out of the Nitro Blending parking lot Wednesday morning. He would not say who hired him.

Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw… or 304-348-1702. Reach David Gutman at david.gut… or 304-348-5102.

To help avoid confusion, here’s some information about 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, taken from the American Association of Poison Control Centers

Source: West Virginia Gazette & CNN

Another Train Collision in North Dakota Sets DOT 111 Oil Rail Cars Ablaze

A plume of smoke rises from scene of a derailed train near Casselton, North Dakota December 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Michael Vosburg/Forum News Service

(Reuters) – A BNSF train carrying crude oil in North Dakota collided with another train on Monday setting off a series of explosions that left at least 10 cars ablaze, the latest in a string of incidents that have raised alarms over growing oil-by-rail traffic.

Local residents heard five powerful explosions just a mile outside of the small town of Casselton after a westbound train carrying soybeans derailed, and an eastbound 104-car train hauling crude oil ran into it just after 2 p.m. CST (2000 GMT), local officials said. There were no reports of any injuries.

Half of the oil cars have been separated from the train, but another 56 cars remain in danger, said Cecily Fong, the public information officer with the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services. The collision destroyed both engines on the oil train. Both trains were operated by BNSF Railway Co, which is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The incident threatens to stoke concerns about the safety of carrying increasing volumes of crude oil by rail, a trend that emerged from the unexpected burst of shale oil production out of North Dakota’s Bakken fields. Over two-thirds of the state’s oil production is currently shipped by rail.

“Approximately 10 cars are fully engulfed resulting in heavy smoke in the area,” the Cass County sheriff said in a statement, adding that local fire and hazardous material teams are battling the blaze. The sheriff said it was not yet clear how the collision had occurred.

City officials said they had heard a series of explosions following the collision, including one as recently as 3:40 p.m. CST, more than an hour after the incident. Residents within 10 miles were asked to remain indoors to avoid contact with the smoke.

The derailment occurred about a mile west of Casselton, a small town just west of Fargo, between an ethanol plant and the Casselton Reservoir, Fong said.


North Dakota is home to a raging shale oil boom that produced nearly 950,000 barrels of oil a day in October. It is also a major grain producer and long accustomed to a high volume of rail traffic.

But shipments of oil have surged lately, most of it the light, sweet Bakken variety that experts say is particularly flammable.

Trains carried nearly 700,000 barrels a day of North Dakota oil to market in October, a 67 percent jump from a year earlier, according to the state Pipeline Authority.

This summer, a runaway oil train carrying Bakken crude derailed and exploded in the center of the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people. The incident fueled a drive for tougher standards for such shipments, including potentially costly retrofits to improve the safety of tank cars that regulators have cited as prone to puncture.

In early November, two dozen cars on another 90-car oil train derailed in rural Alabama, erupting into flames that took several days to fully extinguish.

The Association of American Railroads recently proposed costly fixes to older DOT 111 tank cars that do not meet its latest standards but continue to carry hazardous fuels such as oil.

The fixes include protective steel jackets, thermal protection and pressure relief valves, which could cost billions of dollars. Oil shippers, likely to be saddled with the costs of retrofits, oppose some of the changes proposed by the association.

(Additional reporting by Jeanine Prezioso and Selam Gebrekidan in New York; Editing by Gary Hill, Jonathan Leff, Bob Burgdorfer and Lisa Shumaker)

Fire Prevention Weekly Update – May 22, 2013


  1. Campaigns / Other Fire Prevention Efforts
  2. Campus fire safety
  3. Inspections/Code enforcement
  4. Smoke Alarms
  5. Sprinklers
  6. Wildland Fire Safety
  7. Fire safety tips and reminders
  8. Other Safety News
  9. International News

Links to Fire Prevention-related news articles – Updated 05/20/2013

Campaigns/ Other Fire Safety Activities

  1. Fond du Lac Firefighters Bring Safety Initiative Door-to-Door – story and video – (Wisconsin)
  2. Savoring sweets to save lives – Ice cream social raises money to install smoke alarms (Iowa)
  3. Fire safety program includes home inspections (Alberta, Canada)
  4. Residents at East Cobb Condo to Get Lesson in Fire Safety
  5. Smoke Alarms Provided to Elderly/Disabled in Texas
  6. Volunteers go door-to-door for fire safety (Iowa)
  7. Chico school kids get the low-down on fire safety (California)
  8. Windsor firefighters knocking on doors to check for smoke alarms (Canada)

Campus fire safety

  1. Dormitory fire halted by fire sprinklers (San Luis Obispo, CA)

Inspections / Code enforcement

  1. Investigation finds SA apartments flunking fire inspections (Texas)
  2. Inspections Important Part of Fire Prevention (Idaho)

Smoke Alarms

  1. New Maryland Law Dictates Need for Smoke Alarms
  2. Smoke detectors could have saved Perryville man (Missouri)
  3. City called for smoke detectors before fatal fire
  4. No smoke detectors found after Pottsville fire kills 6
  5. Sleeping Teens Saved By Smoke Alarm (New York)
  6. Smoke alarms save grandmother’s life during house fire in Elizabeth (Colorado)


  1. Fire sprinklers save apartment and surrounding businesses (Harrisonburg, VA)
  2. Task force: New apartments must have fire sprinklers (South Dakota)
  3. Fire sprinklers credited with saving three story apartment (Melbourne, FL)
  4. Shenandoah closes loophole in fire sprinkler ordinance
  5. Dormitory fire halted by fire sprinklers (San Luis Obispo, CA)

Wildland Fire Safety

  1. Creating ‘defensible space’ can be key to homes surviving wildfires (Minnesota)
  2. Which mulch is the right mulch? Research on mulch and fire helps you decide!
  3. Upper Midwest wildfires raise concern for community safety (NFPA)
  4. Tinderbox-Dry Western U.S. at High Risk of Major Wildfires
  5. Australian Council launches app for fire inspections

Safety tips and reminders

  1. Summer Vacation Fire Safety (Georgia)
  2. Fire Chief Gives Out Some Fire Prevention Tips (Indiana)
  3. Establishing a fire escape plan (Alabama)
  4. Extension Cords: Leading cause for electrical fires

Other Safety News

  1. Galesburg fire sparks a lesson in prevention
  2. Fire investigators burning to learn
  3. 1 critical after Motel 6 fire in Phoenix; smoke detectors possibly not working

Fire Prevention News: International

  1. Complacency causes fires: NSW Commissioner (Australia)
  2. Australian Council launches app for fire inspections
  3. Fire department helps found education group (Canada)
  4. Windsor firefighters knocking on doors to check for smoke alarms (Canada)
  5. Firies warn residents to do safety check (Australia)

Update! Reglatory Confusion & Oversight Lead To West Fertilizer & Chemical Company, West Texas Explosion & Fire

Courtesy of MSNBC All In Part 1

Courtesy of MSNBC All In Part 2


Before 270 tons of ammonium nitratet exploded at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant last Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security “did not even know the plant existed,”  ranking Republican on the DHS House committee Bernie Thompson said Monday.

According to Reuters, 270 tons of ammonium nitrate is 1,350 times more than what should trigger safety oversight from the DHS. (For comparison, the West fertilizer plant had 135 times more ammonium nitrate on its premises than Timothy McVeigh used when he blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.) But the last full safety inspection of West plant was 28 years ago.

Why had regulation on this plant become so lax in the last three decades? MSNBC’s Alex Wagner blamed President George W. Bush on The Last Word Thursday:

“We celebrated the man’s presidency today at the opening of his presidential library,” Wagner said, “but if you look at what happened to OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration], which is the organization which oversees workplace hazards and really has an eye out for the American worker, I believe 86% fewer regulations were issued under Bush. The man he appointed to head OSHA literally fell asleep on the job multiple times…the notion of regulation became a very bad thing under Bush.”

The “bad notion of regulation” was echoed by Texas Governor Rick Perry Monday in Chicago, on a trip meant to lure businesses to the Lone Star state.

“All business have to look at their bottom line,” Perry told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Taxes, regulation, legal system, workforce–that’s what government does. Government can either be a hurdle or it can smooth out the road. We think in Texas we smoothed that road out as good as anybody.”

On The Last Word Thursday, MSNBC’s Richard Wolffe pushed back against the ”smoothing out” of the regulatory road when it leads to unsafe work environments.

“You’ve got to ask yourself as governor, elected by the people in Texas, are you representing business interests–because that’s one measure of his success, right? [Perry] brags about how many business he’s pulled out of other states and therefore ‘created’ those jobs…that’s one measure of him. Another measure is: are your voters, your citizens, safe? When they go to work, do they come home at the end of the day?”

Investigators are still trying to determine what ignited the massive build-up of ammonium nitrate–theories include a small seed fire that could have burst into flame, or the sparking of another flammable gas called anhydrous ammonia–but nothing is confirmed. What’s certain is that the amount of ammonium nitrate present in the plant was an accident waiting to happen.

“The whole thing may have fallen through a number of regulatory cracks,” a federal official whose agency helped regulate the plant told The New York Times Wednesday.

Now those cracks have caused the deaths of at least a 14 people, with a final death toll still to come.


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