The major item at today's CSB meeting was the CAPECO report, which took almost two hours for the presentation, discussion, motions & voting. In the end it was approved by a vote of 3 to 1, with Manny Ehrlich dissenting. He had offered an alternative in which Recommendations 1 through 4 would be replaced by a single recommendation to the EPA, but it was voted down by a 3 to 1 margin. The main public input (via e-mail) on this urged extending the requirements for explosion-proof equipment beyond what is currently required for cases where vapor cloud ignition from large flammable releases could occur.
After a break, the next 45 minutes featured remarks by Vanessa Sutherland concerning her "listening tour", along with brief updates from the Board Members on specific investigations (along with one significant public input as noted below):
Exxon Torrance (Sutherland): No projection concerning the timing of completion. One risk which will be addressed is that of modified hydrofluoric acid (HF) release, since a large chunk of the electrostatic precipitator (ESP) debris landed very close to the modified HF storage tank. Mr. Wright of the Steelworkers Union endorsed this, asking that the investigation & Board consider the inherent hazards of HF, alternatives to consider (such as solid catalysts), and information gleaned from the Citgo Refinery HF release that was one of the investigations controversially closed at the end of the Richmond, CA Board Meeting in January of 2015. Mr. Wright also asked that consideration be given to "normalization of deviance" in the use of steam pressure to prevent flammables from reaching the ESP, a practice which had occurred once previously without creating a disaster, but which failed to do so in this case.
West Ammonium Nitrate Explosion (Ehrlich): Target date for completion is November, 2015. The first 5 chapters are being reviewed by the full Board, while he is currently reviewing chapter 7 on emergency response.
Freedom Industries (Kulinowski): Target date for completion is 2Q2016.
DuPont La Porte (Engler): Houston meeting which took place on September 30 resulted in approval of interim recommendations & report. No additional update at this point.
Macondo (Sutherland): Target date for completion, issuance of a report, and a public meeting is early 2016.
Williams Olefins (Sutherland): Target date for completion, issuance of a report, and a public meeting is early 2016.
Ms. Sutherland also announced that the next Board public meeting would be scheduled for December, and hinted that some new initiatives based on her "listening tour" may be forthcoming. She also indicated that she is concerned that personnel staffing at this small agency is prone to "single point failure" syndrome, and that she would be working to develop backups for critical functions carried out by staff who have been so identified.