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Environmental Health and Safety Blog | EHSWire

New Executive Order—Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Aug 6, 2013 9:07:00 AM

improving safetyOn August 1st, 2013 President Obama signed an Executive Order -- Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security.  A statement published by the McClatchy Washington Bureau, reported that

"The White House issued an executive order Thursday to improve safety and security at chemical facilities in the wake of the explosion last April at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas that killed 15 people and created a fireball that leveled much of the town."

Those of us involved with Environmental, Health and Safety will be paying very close attention to the actions and results related to this order, as they will be affecting the operations of many of our clients and have a direct impact on the processes, storage, and handling of chemicals that are defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as Extraordinarily Hazardous Substances.. The intention of this action is to review potential new guidelines to improve the way in which these hazardous materials are managed. In response to this, Environmental and Energy Publishing disclosed that regarding chemical security:

"…the administration would establish a Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group aligning U.S. EPA, the Department of Homeland Security and the Labor Department with other federal agencies to better collaborate on facility security. The group would be tasked with creating a 'unified federal approach' for identifying and responding to risks at facilities, including improving coordination with state, local and industry groups."

The reactions to this announcement have been quite positive, surmising that this action is welcomed by the industry in that it calls for increased coordination among the various agencies who oversee facilities that use and store chemicals. While there already are various rules and regulations in place (the EPA’s Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act (TCPA), OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), it is agreed that in many cases there are "holes" in the system that can allow incidents like the April 2013 Texas City fertilizer plant explosion to cause devastating damage to communities including loss of life.  The focus of these efforts is to improve communication between the agencies that are already involved allowing for more transparency, and take action moving forward to improve the rules and regulations that already exist.

Call Emilcott if you need guidance about how this new order may affect your business.  We have highly skilled experts who can help you meet these and other compliance regulations.

Topics: Emilcott, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSH, EPA’s Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act (TCPA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM), Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), Texas City fertilizer plant explosion

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