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As Hurricane Season Ramps Up Chemical Industry Prepares for New Challenges

Each hurricane season comes with unique challenges and this year is certainly no different. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast has called for a very active season that could involve almost twenty name storms in the Atlantic. We have already seen a tropical storm impact the U.S. coast before this season officially began and now we have another storm forming in the Gulf.

Of course, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has added an unwelcome twist to this season. Over the past few months the chemical industry has focused on preventing the spread of the virus while trying to safely maintain operations so our members can help provide products that are essential to combating and protecting people from the virus.

And, while the pandemic continues, our industry knows it must keep a close eye on the potential dangers of extreme weather. Hurricane preparedness is a year-round effort for the chemical industry, especially for facilities along the Gulf Coast. A large share of the chemical production in the United States is located in Texas and Louisiana because of the ready access to many transportation options and to raw materials such as petroleum and natural gas.

Since storms present a real risk to these vital operations, facility operators know the importance of planning early and taking steps well in advance of a storm’s arrival with the following priorities in mind:

  • Protect employees and surrounding communities
  • Prevent the release of chemicals
  • Restore operations and production essential to producing vital everyday items

A big part of storm preparation also involves making use of the valuable resources provided by state and federal agencies. Government officials have recently released some terrific new safety information and tools over the past few weeks that will help our industry and the public deal with what is sure to be a challenging storm season.

Last week, the Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management

held an online briefing with local meteorologists pointing out the dangers that folks should prepare for when a storm is about hit.

FEMA COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season

And, the Federal Emergency Management Agency released a guide for emergency managers and public health officials to help them deal with a hurricane while at the same time continuing to respond to and recover from coronavirus (COVID-19). The new guide is especially timely since dealing with the dual threat of a hurricane along with a deadly virus was a key topic of discussion during a panel at ACC’s Responsible Care conference early last month. 

It’s tough to know exactly what 2020 still has in store but experience has taught us that planning and teamwork can overcome just about any challenge that lies ahead.

You can learn more about hurricane safety and the chemical industry here.

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