Thursday, September 5, 2013

US moves to improve safety of chemical storage

EPA, OSHA and ATF provide information and lessons learned about the safe storage, handling and management of Ammonium Nitrate 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued a chemical advisory that provides information on the hazards of ammonium nitrate (AN) storage, handling and management.

This action supports the goals of President Obama’s August 2013 executive order on “Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security.”

Storing chemicals may be a health hazard
for workers and communities.
The advisory provides lessons learned for facility owners and operators, emergency planners and first responders from recent incidents, including the explosion in West, Texas, involving AN in order to prevent similar incidents.

“Understanding and minimizing the hazards posed by solid ammonium nitrate used in fertilizers is a key component of this advisory,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “In addition, the community emergency planning and response information in this document provides a valuable tool that will help protect workers, first responders and communities throughout the country.”

“Ammonium nitrate can be very dangerous, and it’s imperative that employers, workers and first responders all understand the hazards,” said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “With this understanding, together they can control these hazards and save lives and limbs.”

The advisory takes steps to reduce the risks associated with AN to workers, first responders and communities.

It is part of an ongoing coordinated federal government effort to improve chemical safety with regards to AN and includes information on ensuring proper building design, storage containers and fire protection at their locations; learning from other accidents; and knowing and understanding the hazards that exist when developing their emergency response plans.

Click here to view the advisory and more information on EPA’s risk management program.

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