Friday, May 30, 2014

NY and NJ Facilities Found in Violation of Proper Hazardous Materials' Inventories

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in conjunction with state and local agencies, recently conducted inspections of 30 facilities in New York and New Jersey and discovered that 17 of the facilities were in violation of keeping proper inventories of hazardous chemicals at their facilities. The EPA found that these facilities did not supply chemical inventories and hazard information to the appropriate government agencies.

EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck stated “Before they rush into an emergency situation, fire fighters and first responders deserve to be informed about the hazardous chemicals stored there. These requirements ensure that responders have the essential information they need to protect themselves, workers and the surrounding community when they respond to a facility during a chemical release or fire.”

Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, companies that manufacture, process, import or otherwise use chemicals above a certain amount must annually submit chemical inventory information to local authorities and to the state, giving detailed information about the chemicals they have on location. The businesses must report the names and quantities of those chemicals, as well as the hazards posed by those chemicals, to the state and local response agencies.

On August 1, 2013, President Obama issued Executive Order 13650 to improve the safety and security of chemical facilities and reduce the risks of hazardous chemicals to workers and communities. Chemicals, and the facilities where they are manufactured, stored, distributed, and used, are essential to today's economy. However, past and recent tragedies -- such as the devastating explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas in April 17, 2013 -- have reminded us that the handling and storage of chemicals are not without risk.

It is important for communities and facility owners and operators to work closely together to ensure chemical safety and security.  In order to maintain safety within your community and work place if you deal with hazardous materials, Green Education Services offers courses regarding the safe handling and proper management of hazardous materials.

As a result of these finds, the EPA issued notices of violations to these facilities as well as contacted hundreds of other related facilities to ensure that they are provided with detailed information regarding their obligations to the proper handling and storage of hazardous materials.  The EPA plans to follow up with more spot checks to gauge the effectiveness of the outreach.