EPA to require chemical companies to consider inherently safer technologies

President Obama speaks at the 2013 memorial for 15 victims of an ammonium nitrate explosion in West, Texas. Credit: Newscom

President Obama speaks at the 2013 memorial for 15 victims of an ammonium nitrate explosion in West, Texas. Credit: Newscom

“Chemical companies and refineries would have to consider inherently safer technologies and, in some cases, undergo third-party, independent safety audits under a new Environmental Protection Agency proposal,” writes Jeff Johnson at C&EN this week.

EPA’s proposal would, for the first time, require a subsection of companies, including refiners and chemical makers, to consider using alternative, safer technologies as they regularly update their [risk management plans], which is required at least every five years.

Consideration is all that would be required; implementation of safer technologies would not be, stresses Mathy Stanislaus, EPA assistant administrator for land and emergency management. EPA would have access to a company’s assessment of safer technologies but the public would not, Stanislaus tells C&EN. …

Also, the proposal would require companies that have chemical accidents to hire an independent third party to conduct compulsory safety audits, rather doing these audits themselves, as they do now, says Stanislaus. And after an accident or a near-miss incident, companies would have to conduct root-cause analyses and prepare incident reports for EPA.

The story notes that EPA’s proposal comes out of a re-examination of EPA regulations ordered by President Barack Obama following a 2013 ammonium nitrate explosion at West Fertilizer that killed 15 people. But facilites such as West won’t be covered by the regulation because EPA is not adding ammonium nitrate to its risk management plan program.

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

Share This Post On