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Industrial Safety

US Chemical Safety Board ordered to require industrial accident reporting

by Jeff Johnson, special to C&EN
February 8, 2019 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 97, ISSUE 6

 

09706-polcon6-arkemacxd.jpg
Credit: Adrees Latif/Reuters/Newscom
Flammable organic peroxides at Arkema's flooded plant in Crosby, Texas, exploded amid rising floodwaters after Tropical Storm Harvey.

The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board must develop, within one year, a long-delayed regulation that could lead to a national chemical-accident reporting system, a federal court ordered on Feb. 4. The requirement for public reporting of industrial accidents was part of the law that created the CSB in 1990. The CSB proposed a draft regulation several years ago but failed to finalize it. Several Texas-based nonprofit groups and the national Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility sued the CSB over the regulation in 2017, shortly after firefighters and community members were injured by fires and explosions related to flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey at an Arkema plant in Houston. According to the opinion by US District Judge Amit P. Mehta, the CSB had initially asserted that the Texas community groups lacked standing to sue the agency and “half-heartedly” maintained that its 30-year delay in issuing the regulation was reasonable. Mehta disagreed and gave the CSB one year to finalize the rule. In a statement, the CSB says it is reviewing the opinion and “will endeavor to create a reporting rule that fulfills our mission to drive chemical safety change.”

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