CSB team investigates deadly explosion at Kleen Energy plant

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The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) deployed a team of seven to the site of a deadly explosion at the Kleen Power Plant in Middletown, Connecticut.

Media reports said the blast around 11:30 a.m. on February 7 left many people dead and injured and caused off-site damage.

CSB lead investigator Don Holmstrom said: “The CSB investigation team will be looking into the activities going on at the time of this accident, including any gas purges, as indicated by early media reports.”

At a public meeting on Thursday, February 4, the CSB published urgent recommendationsthat national fuel gas codes be changed to improve safety when purging gas lines – stripped of air – when servicing or installing new piping. The urgent board recommendations stem from the CSB’s ongoing federal investigation into the June 9, 2009 natural gas explosion at the ConAgra Slim Jim production plant in Garner, North Carolina, which caused four deaths , three serious life-threatening burns and other injuries that sent a total of 67 people to hospital.

The CSB issued a security bulletin on gas purges in October 2009, due to the occurrence of multiple serious accidents during purges. Key safety lessons outlined in the bulletin included purging gases to a safe location outside, away from sources of ignition, evacuating non-essential workers during the purge, using combustible gas monitors to detect any accumulation of dangerous gases and effective training for personnel involved in the purge,

Holmstrom heads the CSB’s Western Regional Office located in Denver and led the agency’s investigation into the 2009 purge accident at the ConAgra siteto Garner.

The CSB is an independent federal agency responsible for investigating serious chemical accidents. The members of the agency’s board of directors are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations examine all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as deficiencies in regulations, industry standards and safety management systems.

The board does not issue citations or fines, but makes safety recommendations to factories, industry organizations, task forces, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA.


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