American Chemistry MattersA Blog of the American Chemistry Council

American Chemistry Matters

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Improving regulatory oversight for safeguarding chemical facilities

Safeguarding chemical facilities and the surrounding communities is a top priority for ACC and our members. Thanks to the combination of industry and government programs, there has been great progress in enhancing the safety and security of chemical facilities across the nation. ACC members have moved aggressively to secure their facilities by adopting the widely-praised Responsible Care® Security Code. Our members have invested almost $13 billion in chemical facility security enhancements over the past decade under the Code.

ACC and our members also support a multitude of existing federal programs that regulate chemical safety and security, including the Risk Management Plan Rule, Safe Drinking Water Act, Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), and Maritime Transportation Security Act.

Over the past few months, ACC has been actively engaged in working with the Administration, interagency Working Group, and other stakeholders through various listening sessions to help improve the effectiveness of many of these programs through President Obama’s Executive Order 13650, “Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security” (EO). Through this process, ACC and others have offered extensive constructive comments to help decide the best route to implement the EO.

Just this week, ACC and 15 other trade associations sent a letter to the White House, outlining substantive and constructive recommendations for improving the effectiveness of safety and security regulations. Specifically, the letter outlines three actions that would provide communities with more information and help improve agency coordination:

1.  Work with industry and others to ensure that emergency responders have the information they need to protect communities where chemicals are stored, including updating and enforcing the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986.

2.  Improve regulatory effectiveness and operational coordination by improving compliance and enforcement of existing laws through better coordination between all parties involved, targeted enforcement based on incident data and prioritized inspection schedule, and additional training for inspectors.

3.  Leverage private sector industry programs, like ACC’s Responsible Care, to help improve or supplement federal programs; Interactions with affected groups will allow the IWG and other agencies to obtain a broad perspective on emerging safety trends and industry best practices.

Many of these actions are in line with the recent recommendations and findings that were issued by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board following the West, TX, incident, as well as some of the topics that were discussed during the hearing in the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

We encourage the Working Group to incorporate these recommendations into the final report they will be sending to President Obama at the end of this month and to continue to work with the stakeholders in the regulated community that will be crucial for the overall success of the EO.

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