Environmental Protection

Chemical Safety Board Issues Apex Safety Video

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board on April 16 released a safety video to accompany its final report on the October 2006 hazardous waste fire and community evacuation in Apex, N.C.

Titled "Emergency in Apex," the 16-minute video features a computerized animation that depicts the sequence of events leading from a small fire in an oxidizer storage and transfer bay to a large fire and series of explosions at the Environmental Quality Company, or EQ, on Oct. 5, 2006.

Large sections of the town of 34,000 were evacuated during the fire. The video includes descriptions of the evacuation and firefighting efforts by Apex officials, including Mayor Keith Weatherly, Fire Chief Mark Haraway, and Police Chief Jack Lewis. Residents describe their reaction and concerns over the accident and aftermath.

Board chair and chief executive officer John Bresland describe in the video key findings and recommendations resulting from the 18-month investigation, emphasizing recommendations for fire code development and emergency planning information improvements.

John Bresland said, "We believe this video will have a great safety impact when viewed by managers and operators in the hazardous waste industry. We think emergency responders and local government leaders across the country will benefit from the descriptions of the event from those who managed the two-day crisis, not knowing precisely what chemicals were burning at the facility."

The Chemical Safety Board is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. Members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Its 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. For more information, visit, www.csb.gov.

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