The EPA has failed to proceed with the implementation and enforcement of an administrative rule designed to lessen the likelihood and impact of chemical explosions and toxic chemical releases from chemical factories. The rule, EO 13650, was finalized on January 13th, 2017, but has been targeted for a two-year delay by EPA head Scott Pruitt.
Chemical spills and explosions at major manufacturing plants have claimed dozens of lives over the last ten years, and have led to thousands of hospitalizations. Many if not most of these accidents are preventable through proper storage and handling of dangerous chemicals. Even where accidents are not preventable, a quick response from well-trained emergency personnel can make a life-saving difference. But industries lack national guidelines regarding best practices. This EPA rule was designed to change that.
Even while delaying the implementation, the EPA has acknowledged how important these changes are through a fact sheet released in June 2017. Many of the changes are commonsense, such as ensuring that local emergency responders are prepared in the event of an accident. Expecting firemen and EMTs to enter into a dangerous situation with chemicals without proper training is ridiculous, and allocating resources to ensure people put in harm’s way know what they are dealing with should not be delayed for two years.
Other changes, such as requiring third-party safety audits, can only improve outcomes. Safety must always be the priority, and it would be good if businesses would make these changes even before the rule is enforced. But if that were the case, the rule wouldn’t have been needed in the first place.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in an industrial accident, you know all too well how slipshod many practices are in these facilities. Please, retain an experienced attorney to help you hold the business accountable for its unsafe practices. Only a skilled lawyer will know how to proceed with your case.