The order aims to improve emergency response plans for dealing with everything from accidental chemical releases to terrorist attacks. Much of it focuses on coordinating the efforts of federal agencies with first responders at the state and local level.
But the directive would also require chemical companies to take a hard look at their facilities and revamp their own disaster plans.
Scott Sherman is a senior counsel with the Houston office of Bracewell & Giuliani.
“Really, what’s going on, I think, here is, and appropriately so, is a movement away from viewing the facility in West, or facilities like the one in West, from an environmental protection-only perspective or an OSHA-only perspective, but looking at both environmental protection and worker protection together, and therefore having appropriate emergency response planning.”
Sherman says this will involve a cost to chemical companies, but he believes the cost will be modest.