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Award for safety video on West Virginia propane explosion that killed four

17 August 2009

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) received a key communication award from a major online learning and teaching organisation for a CSB safety video on the West Virginia propane explosion that killed four people when a convenience store blew up in January 2007.

Award for safety video on West Virginia propane explosion that killed four
Award for safety video on West Virginia propane explosion that killed four

The award was the organisation’s first-ever Fire Safety Editorial Board Classics Award. It was issued in the category of “Exemplary Materials” in teaching and learning.

CSB director of public affairs stated: “We are pleased to have this recognition of the CSB Safety Video program. Our videos have been played millions of times online and we have distributed almost 100,000 free DVDs to chemical safety stakeholders, including members of the public.”

The video, “Half an Hour to Tragedy,” derives its name from the approximately 30 minutes that passed while a convenience store in Ghent, West Virginia, filled with propane from a leak that occurred in a tank placed too close to the store. The video features a computer animation depicting the sequence of events in which propane technicians and emergency responders failed to evacuate the store and perished when the propane inside ignited.

CSB chairman John Bresland noted that many CSB videos are in wide use in emergency responder training, particularly a video released earlier in the year, entitled “Emergency Preparedness: Findings from CSB Accident Investigations.” The video uses computer animations, interviews, and news footage to depict a series of chemical accidents that illustrate the need for effective training, communications, and community planning. In some incidents, firefighters and police were overcome by toxic chemicals and forced to retreat from neighbourhoods; in others, firefighters and workers were tragically killed and others injured.

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