Former EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman is calling for new federal requirements to prevent disasters at facilities that make or store hazardous chemicals, such as the fertilizer depot in West, Texas, that exploded in April, killing 15 people. Whitman, a former New Jersey governor, joined a broad coalition of environmental, labor, and other activist groups in urging EPA to require the use of safer chemicals and processes when they are available, effective, and affordable. They want the agency to act under an executive order that President Barack Obama issued on Aug. 1. It requires EPA and several other federal agencies to identify by Oct. 31 new policy options for improving the safety and security of chemical facilities. Whitman, who headed EPA for two years under President George W. Bush, says more than 100 companies have already switched to safer chemicals, including many water treatment plants. Chemical industry trade associations have said federal agencies should improve coordination of their activities and information sharing rather than creating new regulatory programs.