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Comment Environment, Health, Safety & Security

Editor’s Page: Are we taking safety seriously?

By Rebekkah Marshall |

Negative opinions regarding the adequacy of contemporary process-plant safety certainly exist in the public, governmental and private sectors. Any way you look at it, a harsh truth for the chemical engineering profession is that for every thousand or so thankfully uneventful operations, a pessimistic residue lingers from a tragic incident of the past. That presence continually reminds us to heed the valuable lessons learned with each case, in hopes that it will go a long way toward preventing subsequent, if not more devastating, events in the future. In that context, the fatality that resulted from yet another explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery on January 14th, literally adds insult to injury. This is the third death at the facility in less than three years since the 2005 explosion that caused 15 deaths and 180 injuries. The latest explosion prompted the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) to open another investigation of the facility last month. According to William Wark, one of three board members of the CSB, a number of factors were weighed in the decision to proceed with this investigation. "These factors included the severity of the accident, the likelihood that hazardous chemicals were involved, and the learning potential…
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