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Federal agencies propose measures to improve chemical plant safety

January 08, 2014

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Several federal agencies that collaborated to devise a plan to improve chemical plant safety in the United States have come up with a series of proposals that would reduce the risk of incidents like the one in West, Texas, last year.

Following the deadly blast at the fertilizer plant in April that killed 15 people and injured hundreds, President Obama requested a plan to prevent similar incidents and mitigate their impact. Representatives from a number of agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Labor, came together to work on the task. The proposals were due to be published in October, but the government shutdown delayed their release and they were eventually published last week.

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The list of recommendations is long and includes a variety of proposals that would tighten regulations and lead to new guidance. In addition, the agencies suggest that the number of chemicals considered a safety concern should be expanded. The list also contains proposals for improved storage and handling of ammonium nitrate -- the substance that caused the explosion in the West fertilizer plant, the Huffington Post said.

As part of the recommendations, representatives of the agencies stated that the list of companies required to disclose the potentially hazardous chemicals they work with or store should be expanded to include oil and gas drillers, farmers and others.
 

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