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Obama Orders Upgrades Of Disaster Planning For Chemical Plants

President Obama has signed an executive order to improve the safety and security of chemical facilities. The move follows the April explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas that killed fifteen people and leveled much of the city.



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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.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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