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In connection with its investigation into the cause of a fire at the Third Coast Industries' Friendswood facility, the United States Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board announces that it will convene a Public Meeting beginning at 9 am local time on March 6, at Crowne Plaza Medical Center, 6701 South Main, Houston, TX 77030, Telephone: (713) 797-1110.

At the meeting CSB staff will present to the Board the results of their investigation into this incident, including an analysis of the incident together with a discussion of the key findings, root and contributing causes and draft recommendations. In addition, the Chair may present the Board's Strategic Plan, and action needed on selected recommendations from past CSB investigations.

Recommendations are issued by a vote of the Board and address an identified safety deficiency uncovered during the investigation, and specify how to correct the situation. Safety recommendations are the primary tool used by the Board to motivate implementation of safety improvements and prevent future incidents. The CSB uses its unique independent accident investigation perspective to identify trends or issues that might otherwise be overlooked. CSB recommendations may be directed to corporations, trade associations, government entities, safety organizations, labor unions and others.

After the staff presentation the Board will allow a time for public comment. Following the conclusion of the public comment period, the Board will consider whether to vote to approve the final report and recommendations. When a report and its recommendations are approved, this will begin CSB's process for disseminating the findings and recommendations of the report not only to the recipients of recommendations but also to other public and industry sectors. The CSB believes that this process will ultimately lead to the adoption of recommendations and the growing body of safety knowledge in the industry, which, in turn, should save future lives and property.

All staff presentations are preliminary and are intended solely to allow the Board to consider in a public forum the issues and factors involved in this case. No factual analyses, conclusions or findings should be considered final. Only after the Board has considered the staff presentation and approved the staff report will there be an approved final record of this incident.

In the early morning hours of May 1, 2002, a fire erupted at the Third Coast Industries Friendswood facility, located in an unincorporated area of Brazoria County, Texas. The facility blended and packaged motor oils, hydraulic oils, and engine and other lubricants. The fire quickly spread due to the facility's design and lack of fire control equipment. The nearest water for firefighters was more than a mile away. The fire consumed more than 1.2 million gallons of combustible and flammable liquids and destroyed the site. More than 180 firefighters and support personnel responded, and it took 23 hours to bring the fire under control. Several neighboring buildings were destroyed, one hundred residents were evacuated and a local school was closed for a day. No employees or firefighters were injured during the incident.

The meeting will be open to the public. Please notify CSB if a translator or interpreter is needed, at least 5 business days prior to the public meeting. For more information, please contact the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board at (202) 261-7600, or visit our Web site at: http://www.csb.gov.

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Christopher W. Warner,

General Counsel.

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[FR Doc. 03-4427 Filed 2-20-03; 3:01 pm]

BILLING CODE 6350-01-P