Chemical Safety Board Summarizes 2016 Actions

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has published its 2016 Impact Report, a compilation of accident investigations the CSB completed in fiscal year 2016; ongoing accident investigations; recommendations to regulatory agencies, state and local government, and industry organizations; CSB’s advocacy and outreach initiatives; and expansion of its list of drivers of critical chemical safety change.

Completed Reports

The CSB published six final reports on significant industrial accidents involving petroleum and chemical substances. Incidents covered include the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig blowout in the Gulf of Mexico; the West Texas fertilizer explosion and fire, which caused 15 deaths; and the Freedom Industries chemical release in Charleston, West Virginia, which contaminated a drinking-water source for 300,000 people in nine counties.

The CSB also published a safety alert on preventing high-temperature hydrogen attacks, which included lessons learned from the Tesoro Anacortes 2010 heat exchanger failure, the largest industrial accident ever in Washington State.

The CSB currently has six open accident investigations, including two at petroleum refineries, two involving petroleum pipelines, one at a pesticide manufacturing facility, and one at a facility that manufactures nitrous oxide.

FGAN Recommendation

During fiscal year (FY) 2016 and as a result of CSB’s West Texas fertilizer investigation, the CSB recommended that the Federal Emergency Management Agency create a funding mechanism that would provide training and curriculum development for first responders responding to fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate (FGAN) incidents. In September 2016, FEMA awarded two grants of $1 million each to the Georgia Tech Research Institute and the International Association of Fire Fighters to develop and deliver hazardous material training, focusing on FGAN hazards in accordance with CSB’s recommendations.


In FY 2016, the CSB’s board members presented at 85 conferences and professional society and stakeholder meetings, including meetings with new, untapped audiences, as compared to 17 events in FY 2015. Investigators and other staff members presented at 25 conference and stakeholder meetings, many relating to CSB’s drivers of critical chemical safety change topics.

Drivers of Critical Chemical Safety Change

During FY 2016, the CSB added two new issues to its list of drivers of critical chemical safety change.  The first addresses the need to improve preventive maintenance programs. The CSB found that inadequate mechanical integrity programs, delayed or deferred preventive maintenance, and the aging infrastructure of equipment at chemical facilities have been a recurring root cause of incidents. CSB’s numerous recommendations are intended to ensure that damage mechanisms are

promptly identified and prevented, equipment replacement and upgrades are not delayed, and equipment is not operated beyond its integrity operating window.

The second addition is emergency planning and response. Inadequate or poor emergency planning or response is a recurring finding in CSB’s investigations. To date, 15 CSB investigations have found deficiencies in a community’s, facility’s, or emergency responder’s response to an incident at a chemical facility.

Also in FY 2016, the CSB expanded the materials it offers in Spanish, including news releases, safety videos with Spanish subtitles, and safety digests.

The Impact Report is here.