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Safety

Government Offers Guidance For Chemical Facilities

by Glenn Hess
June 15, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 24

A safety alert from EPA and OSHA details how chemical facilities can integrate safer technologies into their operations to reduce risks. The seven-page guidance document was prompted by an executive order President Barack Obama issued in 2013 in response to the catastrophic ammonium nitrate explosion at a fertilizer facility in West, Texas, that killed 15 people. The first choice for managing chemical hazards and risks, the alert says, is the use of inherently safer technologies. This practice includes replacing a hazardous material with a non- or less hazardous one and reducing the amount of dangerous substances stored on-site. “Ultimately, it is up to you to understand your facility’s risks and what you need to do to protect your workers, the public, the environment, and your capital assets,” the alert says. Although the document provides nonbinding guidance on how companies can make their processes safer, activists say new federal requirements are needed to ensure the safety of workers and communities near chemical plants. “We need more than voluntary measures and recommendations,” says the Greenpeace-led Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters.

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