The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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February 3, 2013

Chemical Safety Board’s response, solutions to Ghent propane explosion

— In the wake of the Ghent propane gas explosion six years ago, the Chemical Safety Board outlined a number of goals for various state agencies, trade associations, labor unions and other groups.

While such suggestions aren’t mandatory, says the CSB, they are intended to provide “realistic and effective solutions” to safeguard the environment and enhance safety and health in the work place.

In a general sense, the agency said, those given recommendations understand that they are meant to avert similar incidents.

From the time recommendations are issued, the CSB monitors them.

Based on evaluations by its staff, the CSB board then assigns an updated status. If a recommendation is in progress, it is considered “open,” while “closed” means the appropriate goal has been met.

This is how the CSB responded to the Jan. 30, 2007, explosion that left four men dead at the Little General Store in Ghent and the action taken:

Governor and West Virginia Legislature

Insist on training and qualifications of anyone handling bulk propane plants, dispensing and delivering such fuel, and installing and serving systems. The CSB suggested that training and qualification requirements be in sync with existing industry programs such as the Certified Employee Training Program. C-AA: Closed, Acceptable Action.

West Virginia Fire Commission

Revise its rules and codes to require annual hazardous materials response refresher training for all West Virginia firefighters. C-AA.

Change its rules so that all fire units within the state perform at least one haz-mat material response drill a year. C-AA.

West Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services

In a recommended rules change, all medical personnel in West Virginia would be given haz-mat refresher training. O-UR: Open, Unacceptable Response. This means the agency doesn’t agree that this is necessary. But CSB feels there is sufficient evidence to support this and is asking the office to reconsider.

National Fire Protection Association

Asked to specify training requirements in the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code, including supervised, on-the-job training, curricula, competencies and testing through written exams and performance evaluation, or reference a nationally recognized curriculum for such requirements. O-ARAR: Open, Acceptable response or Alternate Response. Which indicates a planned action that, when implemented, would meet the CSB’s objectives.

Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials

Develop a plan for helping 911 operators in propane emergencies. The CSB said a model can be found in the questionnaire of Section 1.9.1 in the Propane Education and Research Council’s Certified Employee Training Program. C-AA.

Propane Education and Research Council

Make a change in the Certified Employee Training Program to include procedures for tank-to-tank transfer of liquid propane. C-AA.

Alter the same program to embrace emergency response guidance for propane service technicians who respond to emergency responders in the Propane Emergencies program. C-AA.

National Propane Gas Association

Call on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to prepare a letter of interpretation to ascertain if the Certified Employee Training Program curriculum meets the training requirements in 29 CFR 1910, 110. C-AA

Work in tandem with the West Virginia E911 Council to develop propane emergency guidance by providing the council with the customer leak questionnaire in Section 1.9.1 of the Certified Employee Training Program and technical assistance.

— Mannix Porterfield

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