Today, U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) called on the U.S. Chemical Safety Board to investigate the recent explosion at an ink factory in East Rutherford that sent seven workers to the hospital. Senator Lautenberg is working in Congress to enact new chemical safety standards that would reduce the risk posed to communities by the thousands of chemical facilities throughout the United States.
"These injuries are a stark reminder that millions of people live or work near high risk chemical facilities in New Jersey. It is imperative that an investigation is conducted into this explosion to ensure that these companies are operating with the highest safety standards," Lautenberg wrote.
Senator Lautenberg has introduced the "Secure Chemical Facilities Act" to require plants to assess and develop plans to address their vulnerabilities, and require the highest-risk facilities to use Inherently Safer Technology (IST) that increases public, worker, and environmental safety.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board was created by legislation sponsored by Senator Lautenberg. The Board investigates industrial accidents to prevent them in the future.
The Senator's letter can be viewed here and the full text of the letter follows:
October 12, 2012
The Honorable Rafael Moure-Eraso
Chairman, U.S. Chemical Safety Board
2175 K. Street, NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20037-1809
Dear Chairman Moure-Eraso:
I am writing to request that the U.S. Chemical Safety Board initiate an investigation into the chemical explosion that occurred on October 9, 2012, at the U.S. Ink Factory in East Rutherford, NJ.
According to initial reports, the plant employees were working with chemicals used to produce newspaper ink when anexplosion occurred and ignited a small fire inside the factory duct work. Seven employees were injured in this explosion, and some were severely burned and rushed to local hospitals.
These injuries are a stark reminder that millions of people live or work near high risk chemical facilities in New Jersey. It is imperative that an investigation is conducted into this explosion to ensure that these companies are operating with the highest safety standards.
Given the U.S. Chemical Safety Board's unique mission and expertise, I am requesting that your agency launch an investigation to determine the root cause of the explosion, assess the safety management systems that were in place at the time of the accident, and recommend any new safety procedures that could prevent a similar event in the future. In addition, the investigation should evaluate the potential threats posed to firefighters and other first responders who were at the scene. Throughout your investigation, I urge you to coordinate with all other relevant federal, state, and local agencies.
Working with chemicals should not carry an unreasonable risk of injury. When accidents like this occur, we have a responsibility to launch a thorough investigation, determine what occurred, and correct any practices that undermine safety at chemical facilities and in our communities. I look forward to your response.