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Effective Aug. 1, President Barack Obama has issued an executive order for improving chemical facility safety and security, which establishes a group co-chaired by government officials who will work with a number of entities including chemical facility operators to improve chemical facility safety and security.
The order entitled, "Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security," states that although the Federal Government has developed and implemented numerous programs aimed at reducing the safety risks and security risks associated with hazardous chemicals, additional measures can be taken by executive departments and agencies with regulatory authority to further improve chemical facility safety and security in coordination with owners and operators.
"Incidents such as the devastating explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas in April are tragic reminders that the handling and storage of chemicals present serious risks that must be addressed," stated a separately released fact sheet from the White House.
The executive order directs 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.
The Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group (Working Group) will be co-chaired by the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Secretary of Labor or their designated representatives at the Assistant Secretary level or higher. It will work with state regulators; state, local, and tribal emergency responders; chemical facility owners and operators, and local and tribal communities to work together to improve chemical facility safety and security.
Within 45 days of the order, the group will launch a pilot program involving the EPA, Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and any other appropriate agency, to validate best practices and to test innovative methods for federal inter-agency collaboration regarding chemical facility safety and security.
To view the complete order, click here.