Chemical Blast on Super Bowl Sunday

by Michelle Frey

February 16, 2010

Investigators are still trying to find the cause of a February 7 blast that killed five people at a Kleen Energy Systems LP power plant in Connecticut. Sources said that the blast occurred when a welder lit his torch, igniting the natural gas that had built up. The accident was one of the worst in memory in Middletown, a town of about 45,000 people.

smoke from the accident

To aid in the investigation, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, CSB, deployed a team to examine the activities and conditions that were going on at the plant. The CSB has long urged for improved natural gas safety codes. Most recently, at a public meeting on February 4, the CSB issued urgent recommendations that the national fuel gas codes be changed to improve safety when gas pipes are being purged – cleared of air – during maintenance or the installation of new piping. The Board’s urgent recommendations resulted from the CSB’s ongoing federal investigation into the June 9, 2009, natural gas explosion at the ConAgra Slim Jim production facility in Garner, North Carolina, which caused four deaths, three critical life-threatening burn injuries, and other injuries that sent a total of 67 people to the hospital.

Now is the time for Congress to finally pass strong chemical security legislation. We can’t have any more accidents like the one in Middletown. Congress needs to act now, before another tragedy strikes.

The House passed legislation last fall, now it’s up to the Senate to pass a bill that is even better. Take action and tell your Senators to put the safety and security of the American people above partisan politics and chemical industry lobbyists. Tell them to support comprehensive chemical security legislation even stronger than the bill recently passed in the House of Representatives. Please take action today.

–Michelle

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