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Industrial Safety

Local officials call for tougher chemical safety regulation

by Jeff Johnson, special to C&EN
January 29, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 4


A tree surrounded by industrial debris and smoke.
Credit: Paul Moseley/MCT/Newscom
President Barack Obama initiated a review of US industrial safety regulations after a fertilizer facility caught fire and exploded in West, Texas, in 2013.

More than 70 elected officials from 16 states and territories are urging the US Environmental Protection Agency to toughen and issue a stalled regulation intended to protect communities, workers, and chemical companies from chemical disasters. The risk management plan (RMP) regulation requires 12,000 high-risk chemical producers to examine and institute safe manufacturing processes to prevent accidents and aid emergency responders. The RMP provisions were modified by the Barack Obama administration but weakened by the Donald J. Trump administration. The EPA is now expected to propose additional changes in August 2022 and a final rule a year later. In a Jan. 26 letter to the EPA, the officials ask that the regulation require companies to consider climate impacts, use less-hazardous chemicals and safer manufacturing processes, and add reactive chemicals to the chemicals covered by the RMP, among other provisions. Some 177 million people live near an RMP-covered plant, the officials add, and more than 1 million workers staff these plants.


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