The devastating 1995 Napp Technologies explosion in the heart of Lodi killed five men, created a plume of toxic black smoke that lingered over the county for days — and led to the creation of a federal board that spent the next two decades investigating more than 100 chemical industry accidents across the nation.

Now, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board is slated to be eliminated under the President Trump’s proposed budget, worrying supporters who say the board has helped improve safety nationwide.

The Chemical Safety Board has a budget of $11 million, which supporters say is meager compared to the current $3.65 trillion federal spending plan.

“Just one chemical catastrophe would dwarf that cost,” said Dan Fatton, executive director of the New Jersey Work Environment Council which promotes workplace safety. “If ever there was an example of being pound wise penny foolish, it’s here. The Chemical Safety Board is a pretty good deal for what you get versus what you spend.”

See the full piece by The Record staff writer Scott Fallon on North