In an effort to improve chemical security, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is going to consider issuing guidance or regulations on the installation of inherently safer technologies at chemical facilities.

Mathy Stanislaus, the EPA assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response, told the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council the agency will consider new measures.

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“I want to put all the issues on the table,” Stanislaus said during a Sept. 12 meeting in Atlanta. “Some view that there’s a silver bullet, and I don’t think there is. I would like to build a foundation of the issues and then see what actions can be taken on them.”

He said the explosion in April of ammonia nitrate at a fertilizer retailer in West, Texas, brought safety issues with the chemical industry into focus.

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Following the explosion, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order No. 13,650 in August directing federal agencies to streamline information sharing, modernize regulations and establish a federal working group on chemical security.

Chemical groups previously said the wanted federal agencies to work to improve the implementation and coordination of existing regulatory programs, rather than imposing new ones.

Environmental advocates, public interest groups and NEJAC have separately asked the EPA to use its authority under the general duty clause of the Clean Air Act to mandate the installation of inherently safer technologies at chemical facilities.

Inherently safer technologies are generally described as reducing the risks of chemical manufacturing and processing by simplifying process design, replacing hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives, limiting hazardous conditions and minimizing the amounts of hazardous materials used and stored.

The group’s ultimate goal will be to develop a “standard operating procedure” so federal agencies end up aligned in their regulation of chemical facilities.

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