October 29, 2010

...another explosion occurred at an oil and gas production site in New London, Texas

CSB launches educational outreach initiative HazardEx
29 October 2010

The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has announced that educational materials concerning oil site hazards that threaten the lives of teenagers have been distributed to more than 150 Mississippi school superintendents. The CSB is calling on schools across the state to incorporate the video and lessons into school curricula. 

The products include the CSB’s safety video, "No Place to Hang Out: The Danger of Oil Sites," and a lesson plan to be incorporated into school curricula across the state.

The project’s aim is to save the lives of teenagers in rural areas who often socialise at oil and gas production and storage sites and who are seemingly unaware of the explosion hazards.

“No Place to Hang Out,” was released at a news conference on April 13, 2010, in Hattiesburg, MS. The video tells the story of the tragic deaths of 18-year-old Wade White and 16-year-old Devon Byrd. The two boys were killed on October 31, 2009, when an oil tank located in a clearing in the woods near one of the boys’ homes in Carnes, MS, exploded.

CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso stated: "As the one-year anniversary of this tragic accident approaches, the CSB is committed to doing whatever we can to help schools across the state of Mississippi develop and implement an effective oil tank safety campaign. Our goal, which we are certain is shared by school superintendents, is to be able to reach as many young people as possible in order to save the lives of teenagers exposed to this hazard.”

CSB Investigator Vidisha Parasram said: “This video directly focuses on educating teenagers and young people. The CSB decided that a video aimed at this age group would be the best way to spread a strong safety message, especially if accompanied by a lesson plan and discussion.”

Following the accident in Mississippi the CSB found similar accidents have occurred at rural oil and gas sites in states across the country, killing and injuring children, teenagers, and young adults. The CSB found 26 similar accidents at such sites resulting in 44 fatalities among teenagers and young adults between 1983 and 2010. The Board found that since 2003 alone, oil and gas site explosions caused 16 deaths to members of the public, all of whom were under 25 years of age. As a result of these findings the CSB convened a task force to look into state and federal rules and regulations governing the safety and security of oil and gas production sites. The task force will release its final case study in early 2011.

Chairperson Moure-Eraso added: “If this educational campaign can help save the life of one teenager, it will be worth the effort.”

The CSB has called for improved safeguards at oil and gas sites across the country. Just one day after the April 13, 2010, CSB news conference in Hattiesburg, CSB investigators learned of a similar accident hundreds of miles away at a production site in Weleetka, Oklahoma. CSB investigators examined similarities with the accident that occurred in Carnes, MS. The team determined the accident in Oklahoma occurred when a group of teens and young adults gathered at an isolated unsecured, unfenced and unmanned oil and gas site. The youth who died in the blast possessed a cigarette lighter that likely ignited vapor from the tank, the CSB determined. Just 12 days later, another explosion occurred at an oil and gas production site in New London, Texas. Two 24-year-olds – a man and a woman – were gathering at yet another isolated unattended site when an explosion killed the woman and seriously injured the man.

In August CSB Chairperson Moure-Eraso called on Mississippi legislators and officials to increase safeguards at the oil sties during a meeting of stakeholders convened by State Senator Billy Hudson to discuss the possible introduction of a bill requiring public safety measures at oil and gas sites. In September of 2010 the Board of Supervisors of Forrest County, Mississippi, passed an ordinance requiring appropriate critical security measures, including fencing and signage, be placed around hazardous oil sites. The CSB strongly applauded this action.

The CSB’s task force continues to examine state regulations that that require specific safeguards at oil and gas sites. The task force has found that in some areas of California sites are required to have barbed-wire fencing around facilities where it is necessary to protect life and property. Similarly, Colorado and Ohio require fencing of oil and gas production sites in urban or populated areas.

The CSB task force has identified a lack of consistent state or municipal regulations for perimeter fencing, gates, locks, and warning signage. Such safeguards would deter public access to the sites and prevent the accidental ignition of vapor from storage tanks, the CSB has determined. The final report of the CSB’s task force will address this lack of regulation.

Also see: No Place to Hang Out

October 28, 2010

The Coliseum Explosion of Halloween, 1963


On Halloween night, 1963, during a "Holiday on Ice" skating exhibition at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum, a propane gas explosion killed 74 people and injured nearly 400.It was just after 11 p.m. and the skaters were finishing a medley called "Mardi Gras." No one realized that propane gas was leaking from a rusty tank in the concession area, slowly filling the unventilated room.

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Photo Gallery

October 25, 2010

Concerns Raised Over Pipeline Near Indian Point

Blanch is worried that an explosion and fire sustained by large volumes of natural gas would destroy the systems that power and govern the reactor's cooling ...

... Blanch spent 20 years at Northeast Utilities, where he was a nuclear operations engineer. While there, he raised safety concerns about Connecticut's Millstone generating station. He was fired by the company, but after the NRC substantiated Blanch's concerns he was rehired and defended Millstone's safety procedures. He believes that the NRC does not enforce nuclear safety strictly enough, and he is especially concerned with the degradation of older reactors like the ones at Indian Point.

The type of petition filed by Blanch, called a 2.206 petition, can be filed by any concerned member of the public. As of the end of August, there were 11 such petitions under review by the NRC. The NRC is expected to decide within a month whether or not to investigate Blanch's claims.

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October 05, 2010

Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind when You Know What's Right
By Mary C. Gentile
Publisher: Yale University Press ISBN-13: 978-0300161182

Review: By CSRwire Contributing Writer Elaine Cohen
...Truly embedding a culture of ethics which compels every individual to take personal responsibility and act ethically in every situation is what makes it all work. This book offers practical advice on how to "build the muscles" to speak and act, plan "voicing values," "craft scripts" and generally be prepared for a range of situations in which bold action is required. As the author says, "It is not about deciding what the right thing to do is, but rather about how to get it done."

For more information about this book, please visit www.givingvoicetovaluesthebook.com.
Sharing Values Out Loud: Finding Your Ethical Muscle

Why is that we do not seem to learn lessons from incidents?

PROCESS SAFETY MANAGEMENT INDIA: The Human and Process Safety by Karthikeyan.B
"The San Bruno natural gas explosion has underscored a growing concern about the capabilities of utility employees who watch over the nation's pipelines and whose errors have been linked to a number of mishaps, some of them catastrophic ...


October 04, 2010

Lessons still needed.

We tend to think of infrastructure as bridges and roads. Now in the 21st century we think of fiber optics. Rarely do we think of pipelines, and if we do we conjure up images of caribou keeping warm in winter near the Alaska pipeline. There is another pipeline story. This week the subject of pipeline safety was the focus of a hearing in the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation. In the busyness of the end of summer, few people paid attention to the pipeline accident on Sept. 9 in San Bruno, Calif....

The Pipeline Safety Trust has suggested some basics, and Congress can't seem to get it together to make sure that oversight of this kind of infrastructure takes place....

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Comment:   The investigation of the 1937 Texas School Explosion concluded that, even though officials ignored warnings and took short cuts they weren’t responsible because they were just "average individuals, ignorant or indifferent to the need for precautionary measures, where they cannot, in their lack of knowledge, visualize a danger or a hazard." (Court of Inquiry, 1937.)   -- Ellie Goldberg