'60 Minutes' Looks at Combustible Dusts Tonight
Combustible dust and the Feb.7 Imperial Sugar explosion at Port Wentworth, Ga., which killed 13 people, are the focus of a segment scheduled to be aired tonight by the TV news program "60 Minutes." Correspondent Scott Pelley interviews both former U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board Chair Carolyn Merritt and current OSHA Administrator Edwin Foulke Jr. Their views on the need for an OSHA combustible dust standard are poles apart.
Merritt will tell Pelley about the problem of combustible dust that was throughly investigated by CSB during her tenure, and a CBS preview of the segment indicates she will say OSHA and the industry might have prevented the Port Wentworth fatalities by paying closer attention and enacting a standard as CSB had recommended.
Foulke will say that his agency's enforcement efforts and existing standards are sufficient, the preview indicates. Merritt believes a regulation similar to OSHA's rule for grain elevators is needed. Deaths in grain dust explosions declined by 60 percent and explosion incidents by 42 percent as a result of that rule, she says.