CSB Asks EPA to Review 1993 HF Study

In a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the safety board cited two of its recent investigations. CSB conducted public hearings in both at which members of the surrounding communities expressed concern about the adequacy of the risk management strategies for the use of HF and the effectiveness of community notification procedures in the event of a catastrophic release.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, known as CSB, recently sent a letter to the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency asking that EPA review its 1993 hydrofluoric acid (HF) study to determine whether refineries existing risk management plans are sufficient to prevent catastrophic releases of the chemical, as well as whether there are commercially viable, inherently safer alkylation technologies for use in petroleum refineries.

Addressed to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the letter was stamped April 23 and was posted to CSB's website the following day.

"In the last four years, the CSB has investigated two refinery incidents where an explosion elevated the threat of a release of HF. Refinery workers and surrounding community residents are rightly concerned about the adequacy of the risk management for the use of hazardous chemicals like HF. The EPA should review its 1993 HF study to ensure the health and safety of communities near petroleum refineries utilizing HF," CSB Interim Executive Kristen Kulinowski said.

The agency's letter said the two refinery incidents were the Feb. 18, 2015, explosion at the former ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, Calif., when an electrostatic precipitator in the fluid catalytic cracking unit exploded during maintenance activities; and the April 26, 2018, explosion and fire at the Superior Refinery Company LLC refinery in Superior, Wis., known as the Husky Refinery.

The safety board noted that HF is a highly toxic chemical that can seriously injure or kill someone exposed at a concentration of 30 parts per million and is used in about 50 of the approximately 150 refineries in the United States, as well as many other industries. In a refinery, the chemical is used as a catalyst in the creation of a blending agent for high-octane gasoline.

In both of the investigations, CSB conducted a public hearing in which members of the surrounding communities expressed their concerns about the adequacy of the risk management strategies for the use of HF and the effectiveness of community notification procedures in the event of a catastrophic release. "The EPA is the appropriate agency to assess the adequacy of risk management for the use of chemicals like HF. Refiners, their workforce, and communities that surround the refineries need assurances that the risk plans are adequate to prevent a catastrophic release," Kulinowski said.

The letter states that the safety board understands that new alkylation technologies are being developed that may have inherent safety advantages over the use of HF at U.S. refineries. "These include a solid-state technology and an ionic liquid technology, both of which are currently being planned to replace existing HF alkylation units in at least two U.S. refineries," it states.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Safety Management Software - Free Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Software’s comprehensive suite of modules help organizations to record and manage incidents, inspections, hazards, behavior based safety observations, and much more. Improve safety with an easy to use tool for tracking, notifying and reporting on key safety data.

  • Create Flexible Safety Dashboards

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations allows you to easily create and view safety KPIs to help you make informed business decisions. Our best of breed default indicators can also save you valuable time and effort in monitoring safety metrics.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • The 4 Stages of an Incident Investigation

    So, your workplace has just experienced an incident resulting in the injury or illness of a worker. Now what? OSHA recommends that you conduct investigations of workplace incidents using a four-step system.

  • Why Is Near Miss Reporting Important?

    A near miss is an accident that's waiting to happen. Learn how to investigate these close calls and prevent more serious incidents from occurring in the future.

  • Industry Safe

Free Whitepaper

Stand Your Ground: A Guide to Slip Resistance in Industrial Safety Footwear

This white paper helps to clarify this complexity, so you can better navigate the standards and better ensure the safety of your employees.

Download Now →

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2019

    November/December 2019

    Featuring:

    • GAS DETECTION
      Redefining Compliance for the Gas Detection Buyer
    • FALL PROTECTION
      Don't Trip Over the Basics
    • VISION PROTECTION
      What to Look for in Head-to-Toe PPE Solutions
    • PROTECTIVE APPAREL
      Effective PPE for Flammable Dust
    View This Issue