U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chair calls for action on industrial chemical facility safety and pushes for “inherently safer technology” [US]

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the panel’s chairperson, demanded action on chemical safety, noting that it has been almost a year since the West, Texas accident at an ammonium nitrate facility. So far, the Working Group has not released a final report. Senator Boxer demanded quicker action, such as having the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) add ammonium nitrate to the risk management program.

Dr. Moure-Eraso testified before the committee and advocated forcefully for increased regulatory oversight of industrial chemical facilities. Dr. Moure-Eraso noted that according to insurance statistics, European chemical sites have an accident rate at least three times lower than the United States and pushed for the use of IST. IST attempts to eliminate or minimize chemical hazards, instead of only controlling existing chemical hazards. Some simple ISTs suggested by Dr. Moure-Eraso are using readily available corrosion resistant materials or storing only the minimum amount of hazardous materials necessary for the industrial activities on-site.

Others, however, believe that federal regulators should not attempt to create more regulations. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) argued for stronger enforcement of currently existing regulations instead of creating new rules. Additionally, some industry groups have argued that requiring the use of IST could be vague and cause regulatory uncertainty and harm industries.

The Working Group has yet to release its final report, and aims to send a report to President Obama by the end of May. The Working Group is accepting comments through March 31, 2014 for those interested in providing input into any potential regulatory changes.

Red-on-line EHS Legal Counsel

Sources:

Jason Plautz, “Agencies tout work to improve security, but senators urge more speed,” E&E News, Greenwire, March 6, 2014 http://www.eenews.net/greenwire/2014/03/06/stories/1059995689

Benjamin Goad, “Patience wearing thin on chemical safety push,” The Hill,

http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/200103-patience-wearing-thin-on-chemical-safety-push

Testimony of U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso at March 6, 2014, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing, http://www.csb.gov/testimony-of-us-chemical-safety-board-chairperson-rafael-moure-eraso-at-march-6-2014-senate-environment-and-public-works-committee-hearing/