Federal chemical safety working group issues initial status report

An online best practices repository has been established as one of several early steps to improve chemical plant safety and security, a federal interagency working group said in its initial status report to US President Barack Obama. The president issued an executive order for its formation on Aug. 1, 2013. The status report followed progress updates in December and February.

The working group is jointly run by the US Departments of Labor and Homeland Security and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Its June 6 status report also listed priority actions to strengthen community planning and preparedness, enhance federal operational coordination, improve data management, and modernize policies and regulation.

“We want to underscore that this report is a milestone, not an end-point,” Caitlin Durkovich, assistant secretary in DHS’s Infrastructure Protection Office; David Michaels, assistant secretary in DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration; and Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator in EPA’s Solid Waste and Emergency Response Office, jointly emphasized.

“While the report describes many activities already undertaken to improve chemical facility safety and security, it also makes clear that much additional work is necessary to implement the consolidated action plan,” they continued in an online posting. “We now transition to this implementation, an effort that will be completed over time and require the collective efforts of all of us with a stake in chemical facility safety and security.”

The working group also includes representatives from the US Departments of Agriculture, Justice, and Transportation.

The online best practices repository aims to incorporate stakeholder feedback from listening sessions, meetings, and other outreach efforts; maintain a docket for stakeholder feedback and comments; and use the new web-based repository to capture best practices, the status report explained.

Those practices would then be complied and published, leveraging the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s online Lessons Learned Information System (LLIS) to capture usersubmitted best practices or approaches which result in successful, productive, safer, and more secure operations, it explained.

The working group’s status report also called for improved coordination of federal operations by establishing a Chemical Facility Safety and Security National Working Group to facilitate interagency coordination and collaboration on report actions and implementation. Standard federal coordination operating procedures for use at both the national and regional levels, and crosstraining for federal chemical safety and regulatory field personnel also would be developed.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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