The EPA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have issued a chemical advisory that provides information on the hazards of ammonium nitrate storage, handling and management.
The advisory also gives lessons learned for facility owners and operators, emergency planners and first responders from recent incidents, including the April fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, to prevent similar incidents. It is part of an ongoing coordinated federal government effort to improve ammonium nitrate safety and includes information on ensuring proper building design, storage containers and fire protection at locations; learning from other accidents; and knowing and understanding the hazards that exist when developing emergency response plans.
The advisory supports the goals of President Obama’s August 2013 executive order on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security. Last month Obama directed the federal government to improve operational coordination with state and local partners; enhance federal agency coordination and information sharing; modernize policies, regulations and standards; and work with stakeholders to identify best practices to improve chemical safety.
Facilities required to report non-trade secret Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data to the EPA must file electronically as of Jan. 21, 2014, according to a final rule published in the Federal Register in late August.
TRI tracks the management of certain toxic chemicals that may pose a threat to human health and the environment. Under the TRI program, US facilities must report annually how much of each chemical is released to the environment and/or managed through recycling, energy recovery and treatment.
The federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act — a 27 year old program that aims to alert the public to the presence of hazardous chemicals — is flawed in many states due to lax reporting and oversight, according to a Reuters investigation published in July.
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