Shell Chemical Explosion in Deer Park, Texas; Refinery Workers Call on Congress to Fund Chemical Safety Board;



U.S. House Members Join in the call to Fund the Board



Jun 23, 1997, 01:00 ET from Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers Intl. Union

    LAKEWOOD, Colo., June 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Robert E. Wages, President of the
 Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers International Union (OCAW) today issued the
 following statement on the June 22, 1997 explosion and fire at the Shell
 Chemical plant in Deer Park, Texas.
 
     An explosion and resulting fire in the olefins unit at the Shell Chemical
 plant located along the Houston Ship Channel caused major damage to the
 production unit, rocked the homes of nearby neighbors and shattered windows at
 businesses near the refinery.  The blast was felt for miles away.
 Fortunately, no one was killed, although one worker was sent to the hospital.
 Plant workers heard the vapor cloud release and took immediate action by
 running for their lives.  They had between 20 seconds and one minute,
 depending on who you ask, to find shelter to escape the fire ball.  Several
 workers found shelter in the control room, which is reportedly designed to
 withstand the shock.
     Obviously, this explosion had the potential to take lives and maim
 workers.  Its force was tremendous.  The question is whether and how the
 government ought to respond.  Although OSHA and EPA are investigating, and
 perhaps they will find violations of rules or regulation, we doubt anything
 they can accomplish will reduce the chance of another comparable explosion at
 Shell or anywhere else.
     The Shell explosion follows closely on the heels of a Tosco refinery
 explosion earlier this year and further underscores the need for the CSHIB.
     The solution is for Congress to fund the Chemical Safety and Hazard
 Investigation Board (CSHIB) which was mandated by the Clean Air Act Amendments
 of 1990.
     The CSHIB is an expert, independent, non-regulatory body charged with
 responsibility to investigate the root cause of chemical accidents and
 explosions, and make recommendations to government and industry on ways to
 prevent them in the future.  Modeled after the respected National
 Transportation Board, its findings cannot be used in litigation or by
 enforcement personnel.  CSHIB was terminated by the Clinton Administration in
 1995.
     Led by Congressman George Miller (D-CA), Jon Fox (R-PA), Bob Wise (D-WV)
 and Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), members of the House of Representatives are now
 seeking to appropriate the funds for FY 98 so that the CSHIB may be
 constituted and begin its work.  Markups of the various bills begins this
 week.
     It's time for the Clinton Administration to get out of the way and let
 Congress begin the job of protecting workers and communities from these
 catastrophes.
 
 

SOURCE Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers Intl. Union
    LAKEWOOD, Colo., June 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Robert E. Wages, President of the
 Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers International Union (OCAW) today issued the
 following statement on the June 22, 1997 explosion and fire at the Shell
 Chemical plant in Deer Park, Texas.
 
     An explosion and resulting fire in the olefins unit at the Shell Chemical
 plant located along the Houston Ship Channel caused major damage to the
 production unit, rocked the homes of nearby neighbors and shattered windows at
 businesses near the refinery.  The blast was felt for miles away.
 Fortunately, no one was killed, although one worker was sent to the hospital.
 Plant workers heard the vapor cloud release and took immediate action by
 running for their lives.  They had between 20 seconds and one minute,
 depending on who you ask, to find shelter to escape the fire ball.  Several
 workers found shelter in the control room, which is reportedly designed to
 withstand the shock.
     Obviously, this explosion had the potential to take lives and maim
 workers.  Its force was tremendous.  The question is whether and how the
 government ought to respond.  Although OSHA and EPA are investigating, and
 perhaps they will find violations of rules or regulation, we doubt anything
 they can accomplish will reduce the chance of another comparable explosion at
 Shell or anywhere else.
     The Shell explosion follows closely on the heels of a Tosco refinery
 explosion earlier this year and further underscores the need for the CSHIB.
     The solution is for Congress to fund the Chemical Safety and Hazard
 Investigation Board (CSHIB) which was mandated by the Clean Air Act Amendments
 of 1990.
     The CSHIB is an expert, independent, non-regulatory body charged with
 responsibility to investigate the root cause of chemical accidents and
 explosions, and make recommendations to government and industry on ways to
 prevent them in the future.  Modeled after the respected National
 Transportation Board, its findings cannot be used in litigation or by
 enforcement personnel.  CSHIB was terminated by the Clinton Administration in
 1995.
     Led by Congressman George Miller (D-CA), Jon Fox (R-PA), Bob Wise (D-WV)
 and Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), members of the House of Representatives are now
 seeking to appropriate the funds for FY 98 so that the CSHIB may be
 constituted and begin its work.  Markups of the various bills begins this
 week.
     It's time for the Clinton Administration to get out of the way and let
 Congress begin the job of protecting workers and communities from these
 catastrophes.
 
 SOURCE  Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers Intl. Union