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New Report Released: Actions to Improve Chemical Facility Safety and Security

June 17, 2014 - Kestrel Management

On August 1, 2013, President Obama issued Executive Order (EO) 13650, Improving Chemical Safety and Security, to improve the safety and security of chemical facilities and to reduce the risks of hazardous chemicals to facility workers and operators, communities, and responders. That EO brought together a Working Group comprised of representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Transportation. Over the past 10 months, the Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group has been working to reduce the risks associated with the handling and storage of chemicals.

On June 6, 2014, that Working Group released its status report, Actions to Improve Chemical Facility Safety and Security—A Shared Commitment, to summarize the Group’s progress and short- and long-term priority actions. A thorough analysis of the current operating environment, existing regulatory programs, and stakeholder feedback resulted in immediate actions and a consolidated Federal Action Plan to further minimize risks in five specific thematic areas:

  • Strengthen community planning and preparedness
  • Enhance federal operational coordination
  • Improve data management
  • Modernize policies and regulation
  • Incorporate stakeholder feedback and develop best practices

The report describes many activities undertaken to improve chemical facility safety and security. It also makes it clear that much additional work is necessary to implement the action plan moving forward.

Strengthening Community Planning and Preparedness

Communities need to know where hazardous chemicals are used and stored, how to assess the risks associated with those chemicals, and how to ensure community preparedness for incidents that may occur.

Actions Taken

Future Actions

  • DHS and EPA engaged with LEPCs and first responders to identify and discuss potential methods to increase first responder preparedness and share lessons learned.
  • EPA continued to upgrade its Computer-Aided Management of Emergency Operations (CAMEO) suite to provide more useful/accurate information.
  • FEMA educated state administrative agencies on how the Homeland Security Grant Program allows planning and preparedness training for chemical incidents.
  • Strengthen SERCs, TERCs, LEPCs, and TEPCs.
  • Improve first responder and emergency management preparedness and response training.
  • Identify and coordinate resources for SERCs, TERCs, LEPCs, and TEPCs to sustain planning and response efforts.
  • Expand tools to assist SERCs, TERCs, LEPCs, and TEPCs in collecting, storing, and using chemical facility information.
  • Enhance awareness and increase information sharing with communities around chemical facilities.

Enhancing Federal Operational Coordination

The chemical community is comprised of many stakeholders. Communicating and coordinating across this diverse landscape requires an integrated effort to ensure activities are executed effectively and efficiently.

Actions Taken

Future Actions

  • The Working Group initiated a pilot project, bringing together federal, state, and local agencies to confirm lessons learned, collect best practices, inform other initiatives under EO 13650, and develop solutions to address safety and security challenges.
  • The Working Group engaged the CSB to identify possible updates to existing MOUs with EPA, OSHA, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
  • Coordinate EO implementation activities.
  • Establish SOPs for federal coordination at the national and regional levels.
  • Cross-train federal chemical facility safety and security field personnel to provide awareness of related regulatory programs.

Improving Data

The EO charged the agencies with developing a coordinated, flexible data-sharing process to address the need to optimize available information. Currently, there is no chemical security and safety data clearinghouse that contains all of the data points germane to all federal agency regulations.

Actions Taken

Future Actions

  • EPA updated its Substance Registry Service (SRS) and Facility Registry Service (FRS) to include relevant OSHA PSM and EHS CFATS data.
  • The Working Group is engaged in data sharing across regulatory programs to help locate potential non-compliant facilities by identifying facilities that had registered with one program but not the other.
  • EPA Region 8 tested a new Emergency Response (ER) Planner system that aggregates chemical facility and infrastructure and displays it on a GIS application.
  • DHS worked with all state Homeland Security Advisors to show them how to access information on CFATS facilities.
  • DHS engaged trade associations to foster outreach to potentially non-compliant facilities that have not been engaged in the past.
  • Establish a dedicated cross-agency team of experts to standardize data and develop a common facility identifier.
  • Aggregate data from across the federal agencies and establish a single web-based interface for data collection.
  • Improve information tools for regulated chemicals.

Modernizing Policies and Regulations

EO 13650 directs the Working Group to modernize key policies, regulations, and standards. The Group has reviewed existing programs, recommendations from the safety and security communities, feedback from the EO listening sessions, and investigative reports from major incidents.

Actions Taken

Future Actions

  • The Working Group published a solicitation of public input on options for policy, regulation, and standards modernization.
  • OSHA published an RFI on the PSM standard and other related chemical standards to determine, among other things, whether these standards can be expanded to address additional regulated substances/types of hazards.
  • The Working Group agencies developed and disseminated various guidance materials across federal program areas to inform and support communities.
  • EPA expanded its inspector training curriculum to include advanced process safety training courses.
  • DHS conducted over 100 compliance assistance visits to assist CFATS-regulated facilities in meeting risk-based security standards.
  • Modernize OSHA’s PSM standard to improve safety and enforcement.
  • Modernize EPA’s RMP regulation.
  • Enhance ammonium nitrate safety and security.
  • Promote safety technology and alternatives.
  • Build a stronger CFATS program.
  • Develop guidance and outreach programs.
  • Work with states to improve Safe Drinking Water Act measures.
  • Work with Congress to strengthen and increase OSHA monetary and criminal penalties.
  • Work with Congress to pursue statutory amendment to the Safe Explosives Act.
  • Improve process for notification of stored explosives to fire authorities.

Incorporating Stakeholder Feedback and Developing Best Practices

To gather the concerns of stakeholders, establish best practices, and collect lessons learned from a broad spectrum of stakeholders, the Working Group organized listening sessions across the nation.

Actions Taken

Future Actions

  • The Working Group solicited feedback via listening sessions, Webinars, meetings with stakeholder groups, attending stakeholder conferences, collecting information from public dockets, and engaging nearly 1,800 participants.
  • The Working Group launched an online repository for stakeholders involved with chemical facility safety and security can submit and access best practices.
  • Continue to solicit stakeholder feedback and conduct regular outreach as actions in the report are pursued.
  • Capture and share best practices with all stakeholders.

Blueprint for Action

Ultimately, the goal of these actions is to realize improved coordination structures, enhanced information sharing technologies/mechanisms, updated/streamlined regulations, and more effective enforcement. The Working Group will continue to build upon previous efforts and put in place actions that will help minimize the occurrence of incidents, reduce their severity, and enhance the ability to respond. Many of these actions will be instituted in the next year and will continue well into the future as the industry evolves.

Stakeholders are encouraged to contribute to the ongoing dialog via the Chemical Facility Safety and Security online best practices forum at https://www.llis.dhs.gov/topics/chemical-facility-safety-and-security.

You can download the complete report at https://www.osha.gov/chemicalexecutiveorder/final_chemical_eo_status_report.pdf


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