This talk explores how tech helps investigate chemical explosions - Baltimore


Oct. 31, 2017 11:34 am

This talk explores how tech helps investigate chemical explosions

Baltimore Women in Tech is organizing the Nov. 8 talk with U.S. Chemical Safety Hazard and Investigation Board member Manuel Ehrlich.

A CSB recreation of the 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.

(Still via YouTube)

Thanks to an emergency text alert, word quickly spread on Sept. 18 about an “acid cloud” in Curtis Bay. There was a recommendation to shelter-in-place for a large part of South Baltimore as crews responded to a leak at a chemical plant. After two hours, the order was lifted, and most lives proceeded as normal.

However, that wasn’t the end of the response.

There’s lots more that goes into the investigation of such an incident. On Nov. 8 at Spark Baltimore, a talk organized by Baltimore Women in Tech will delve into efforts to get to the root cause, and take steps to prevent future emergencies.

Manuel Ehrlich, a member of the U.S. Chemical Safety Hazard and Investigation Board, will talk about investigating industrial chemical accidents. It’s called “Using Tech to Investigate Chemical Explosions: Knowing What You Don’t Know.” Along with info on how the federal body goes about its work, there will also be “digital reenactments” of such incidents. The board’s work has included investigations of the 2010 BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion in 2013.

Tickets ($20)

The talk comes a few months after President Donald Trump’s administration floated the idea of abolishing the board in its budget proposal, Chemical and Engineering News reported. As of this writing, it is still operating.

Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock is Market Editor for Baltimore and DC. A graduate of Northeastern University, he moved to Baltimore following stints in New Orleans and Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Baltimore Fishbowl, NOLA Defender, Times-Picayune and the Rio Grande Sun.


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