Fatal BP Husky Refinery Explosion Gets Chemical Safety Board’s Attention
A team from U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has been deployed to Toledo, Ohio, to investigate the fatal BP Husky refinery explosion that tragically killed two workers earlier this month.
BP Husky Refinery Explosion Left 2 Brothers Dead
The September 20th explosion erupted shortly before 7:00 p.m. at the BP Husky Toledo Refinery located at 4001 Cedar Point Road in Oregon, Ohio, triggering a fire that would continue to burn for hours.
Two steelworkers suffered severe burns and later died of their injuries. According to media reports, the deceased were brothers and fathers to young children.
The blast also caused significant property damage in the surrounding area and released sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide into the atmosphere.
“The CSB team will be documenting the site, gathering evidence, and initiating information requests as we begin our investigation into this tragic incident,” Interim Executive Steve Owens said in a press release announcing the deployment.
Investigation Into Toledo Refinery Explosion Board’s First in 14 Months
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating incidents and hazards that result, or may result, in the catastrophic release of extremely hazardous substances. Although it has no enforcement power to assess fines for safety lapses that contribute to these catastrophes, the Board’s non-binding recommendations are frequently adopted by regulators and industries and have been credited with saving countless lives.
The investigation into the BP Husky refinery explosion is the first the CSB has opened in 14 months.
Unfortunately, the previous presidential administration actively worked to undermine the Board, and former President Trump attempted to eliminate its funding on three occasions while in office. While each of those attempts was thwarted by Congress, the former president’s refusal to fill any Board vacancies left the agency severely understaffed and unable to fulfill its mission.
By contrast, the current administration has taken a far more favorable view of the CSB. President Biden has nominated four new Board members since taking office, and the Senate has confirmed two. Congress also increased the CSB’s annual budget to an all-time high of $13.4 million for fiscal 2022. The Biden administration has requested $14.4 million for 2023.
Despite those positive developments, the CSB faces formidable challenges, including a backlog of 17 incomplete investigations. Moral problems and an inability to match private-sector salaries have also left the Board with just 29 staff members, down from 40 before President Trump took office.
BP Husky Refinery Could Remain Offline Into 2023
It’s unclear how long the CSB investigation into the BP Husky refinery explosion might take.
The 100-year-old facility normally employs 840 people and processes up to 160,000 barrels of crude oil daily. However, the plant has been shut-down since the September 20th explosion, as multiple units were reportedly engulfed in flames.
On Wednesday, BP announced it was laying off most contractors, suggesting the facility won’t be restarting anytime soon. According to Bloomberg News, the BP Husky Toledo Refinery could remain offline into next year.
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