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Comment Environment, Health, Safety & Security

A deplorable tendency for accident-related risks

By Nicholas P. Chopey  |

Reader feedback tells us that maintaining process-plant safety is an area of perennial concern. That, doubtless, explains why Carolyn Merritt, chair and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB; Washington, D.C.), drew a large audience during her keynote address at the Chem Show in New York two months ago. For attendees of that Show who heard her, or who read about her remarks in the Chem Show Daily published by this magazine, some of the commentary below will already be familiar. But it most assuredly deserves the wider audience that this page can give it. The mission statement of CSB, an independent federal agency that is governed by a Board appointed by the President, is far-reaching: to promote the prevention of industrial chemical accidents that harm employees, damage the environment and endanger the public, through scientific investigations that determine root and contributing cause, and implementation of recommendations to reduce the risk and consequences of accidental chemical releases. It is true that in the U.S., chemical plants are highly regulated by the federal government and by the states, Merritt acknowledges. Nevertheless, personnel at chemical process companies in many…
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