The Obama administration last week proposed an overhaul of safety procedures at the nation’s chemical plants.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Risk Management Program, in part, requires chemical facilities to establish risk management plans for hazardous materials. The newly issued EPA proposal would stipulate that plants must consider safer alternatives as part of the risk management planning process.
The changes would also bolster publicly available information and improve coordination between facilities and local officials, as well as require third-party audits and root-cause analyses to identify potential process safety improvements.
EPA officials said that affected chemical plants reported more than 1,500 accidents in the past decade, which resulted in nearly 60 deaths, thousands of injuries and evacuations and more than $2 billion in damage.
“Chemicals are a necessary part of our everyday lives,” EPA of Land and Emergency Management Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus said in a statement. “However, as we have too often seen they can cause loss of life, injury and significant property damage.”
The proposal — crafted with input from listening sessions and stakeholder meetings — will be open for public comments for 60 days following its publication.
The agency also continues to assist nearby communities under President Obama’s 2013 executive order regarding chemical plant safety.