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Chemical Plant Safety

Industry warns against requiring use of inherently safer technologies

by Glenn Hess
January 30, 2014

The chemical industry has a clear message for the Obama Administration: Do not force manufacturing and storage facilities to adopt so-called inherently safer technology (IST). Requirements for IST, the industry warns, could mean phasing out hazardous but essential chemicals and costly changes to the way plants operate.

In a Jan. 23 letter to President Barack Obama and an interagency working group, 13 trade associations say that current regulations and the marketplace itself “already provide strong incentives” for companies to reduce risks associated with chemical facilities. Signatories include the American Chemistry Council, the Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates, the Chlorine Institute, the Fertilizer Institute, and the National Association of Chemical Distributors.

The working group is tasked with improving the safety and security of chemical plants and storage depots in response to the deadly ammonium nitrate explosion in West, Texas, last April. It includes the heads of several federal agencies.

Requiring the use of safer chemicals and processes is included on a long list of policy options the working group says it is considering. The group expects to deliver its recommendations to the President by May 1 (C&EN, Jan. 13, page 7).

“Inherently safer approaches to manufacturing processes have been and will continue to be considered by facilities as a matter of course,” the industry groups assert. ”Facility operators—not the government—are in the best position to understand the full ramifications of implementing IST.”



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