Obama Issues Executive Order to Improve Chemical Safety

September 4, 2013 04:32 AM

potusIn wake of explosions, fires and fatalities related to fertilizer and chemical storage over this year's spring and summer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has issued a chemical advisory that provides information on the hazards of ammonium nitrate (AN) storage, handling and management. The action is in support of President Obama's August 2013 executive order on "Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security."

"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."

The advisory is an attempt to reduce the risks involved with the storage and handling of ammonium nitrate to workers, first responders and communities.

"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 President has directed the federal government to improve coordination between state and federal entities, enhance communication, modernize policies and to work toward identifying best practices to improve chemical safety. To that end, Obama established the Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group.

"ATF National Response Team works closely with other federal, state and local emergency personnel responding to incidents, to include ammonium nitrate explosions," says Arthur Herbert, ATF Assistant Director for the Office of Enforcement Programs and Services. "ATF maintains an open dialogue with first responders of the possible hazards of ammonium nitrate and is committed to working towards development of best practices in collaboration with our federal partners, industry members and their association representatives."

Follow the links provided here for more information on EPA's risk management program and President Obama's Executive Order.

Photo credit: blvesboy / Foter / CC BY-ND

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