Energy & Environment

New Safety Proposals Aimed at Deadly Chemical Accidents

Chemical Safety Board proposals to improve safety programs not only at chemical plants and oil refineries, but also at oil & gas drilling sites

west-texas-apartment-attorney-general-photo.pngApartment that was leveled during the West Texas explosion. Photo by Greg Abbott

The federal agency that investigates chemical plant explosions has revealed a sweeping set of new safety proposals. They hit at the heart of industries — and accidents — here in Texas.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) investigates deadly industrial accidents. A team has recently been in La Porte where a leak may be what killed four chemical workers last month.

Now, the CSB has announced proposals to improve safety programs not only at chemical plants and oil refineries, but also at oil & gas drilling site and at companies that handle nitrogen fertilizer like the storage facility in West that exploded last year, killing 15 people.

The CSB says it found that existing regulations for safety programs haven’t been updated in 20 years. Its investigations of recent major refinery accidents found that there were no requirements for risk reduction, no programs to ensure safety improvements, and a lack of expertise on the part of the government inspectors that were supposed to be watchdogs over the plants.

The safety board’s proposals would be implemented by two federal regulators: the EPA, and the workplace safety agency, OSHA. Both are expected to initiate changes to their rules in coming months.

Opposition has already been voiced by the oil & gas drilling industry which for years has been exempt from such federal safety management rules.

 

Share

Dave Fehling

Director of News and Public Affairs

As Director of News and Public Affairs, Dave Fehling manages the radio news operation at Houston's NPR station. Previously, he was a reporter at the station, covering the oil & gas industry and its impact on the environment. He won top state honors for in-depth and investigative reporting as well...

More Information