Report on fireworks-disposal explosion cites insufficient requirements

Washington – Unsafe disposal practices, insufficient safety requirements for government contractors and a lack of national guidelines for safe fireworks disposal are to blame for the 2011 explosion that killed five workers during a fireworks disposal operation in Hawaii, concludes a new report (.pdf file) from the Chemical Safety Board.

The report, approved by CSB following a Jan. 17 public meeting, was accompanied by a safety video depicting the incident.

According to CSB, the Department of Treasury contracted with Donaldson Enterprises Inc. to dispose of confiscated fireworks, but DEI was not an expert and had to improvise its disposal plan.

On April 8, 2011, DEI employees were dismantling fireworks when they had to move inside a tunnel because it started raining. CSB said it is likely that loose black powder from the fireworks fell on the floor of the tunnel and was ignited by a spark or friction from objects being moved around inside.

Among several recommendations, CSB called for governmentwide safety and environmental requirements for contractor selection and for the National Fire Protection Association to develop best practices for safe fireworks disposal.

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