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More than 2.8 million Arizona residents — or 44 percent of the state’s population — live within areas that are most vulnerable to a catastrophic accidental release of gaseous, and sometimes explosive hazardous chemicals. The toxic agents, which the EPA deems extremely hazardous, are stored in more than 100 facilities and, when released, can cause temporary blindness, searing pain, suffocation, and even death. Read more»

A home destroyed by the blast in West, Texas.

A week after a blast at a Texas fertilizer plant killed at least 15 people and hurt more than 200, authorities still don’t know exactly why the West Chemical and Fertilizer Company plant exploded. Here’s what we do know: The fertilizer plant hadn’t been inspected by OSHA since 1985. Its owners do not seem to have told Homeland Security that they were storing large quantities of potentially explosive fertilizer, as regulations require. Read more»

The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on fire in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. Some question the U.S. Chemical Safety Board’s decision to investigate the accident in light of other federal inquiries and a lengthy case backlog at the CSB. Still incomplete, the investigation has cost about $4 million.

As members of Congress raise questions, the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general is auditing the U.S. Chemical Safety Board’s investigative process. Read more»