Safety board wants EPA to address refinery chemical

The Chemical Safety Board is calling on EPA to address hydrofluoric acid, a toxic chemical used by petroleum refineries.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, CSB Interim Executive Authority Kristen Kulinowski urged EPA to review and update its 1993 study on the substance.

In the letter, Kulinowski calls for EPA to assess refineries’ risk management plans and decide whether there are safer, commercially viable alternatives available.

"In the last four years, the CSB has investigated two refinery incidents where an explosion elevated the threat of a release of HF," she said in a statement.

CSB held a public meeting after each incident. At the meetings, residents raised concerns about the use of hydrofluoric acid.

In the December 2018, some community members called for the refinery to use a safer alternative.

"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," Kulinowski added.

CSB is a federal agency with an annual budget of about $12 million that is tasked with carrying out investigations of industrial chemical accidents. The Trump administration has proposed eliminating the agency in its past three budget requests. 

"EPA is reviewing the Chemical Safety Board letter," an EPA spokesperson said in a statement. 

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