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“Terrorism Concerns Results in Chemical Storage Rule Delay” #WestTexasFire #Chemicals

The Trump administration is delaying a new rule tightening safety requirements for companies that store large quantities of dangerous chemicals. The rule was imposed after a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, exploded in 2013, killing 15 people.

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, delayed the effective date of the Obama-era rule until June.

Pruitt’s action late Monday came in response to complaints by the chemical industry and other business groups that the rule could make it easier for terrorists and other criminals to target refineries, chemical plants, and other facilities by requiring companies to make public the types and quantities of chemicals stored on site.

The EPA issued a final rule in January, seven days before President Barack Obama left office. The EPA said at the time that the rule would help prevent accidents and improve emergency preparedness by allowing first responders better data on chemical storage.

A coalition of business groups opposed the rule, saying in a letter to Pruitt that it would do “irreparable harm” to companies that store chemicals and put public safety at risk.

Chet Thompson, president and CEO of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, an industry group, praised Pruitt’s delay of the EPA rule.

“The midnight rulemaking in the final days of the Obama administration would not enhance safety, create security vulnerabilities and divert resources from further enhancing existing safety programs,” Thompson said.

Environmental groups questioned industry claims as “self-interested” and misleading.

Hazardous chemical incidents like the explosion in West, Texas, are “frighteningly common,” according to the Environmental Justice Health Alliance, an advocacy group. More than 1,500 chemical releases or explosions were reported from 20014 to 2013, causing 58 deaths and more than 17,000 injuries, the group said.

Instead of bowing to industry complaints, the EPA should “stand with the first responders, at-risk communities, safety experts, workers, small businesses and others who live at daily risk of a catastrophic chemical release or explosion,” the group wrote in a letter last month to members of Congress.

The Obama-era rule came after a three-year process that included eight public hearings and more than 44,000 public comments, the group said.

The Obama administration said the rule would help prevent chemical incidents such as the 2013 explosion in Texas, while enhancing emergency preparedness requirements, improving management of data on chemical storage and modernizing policies and regulations.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said the Obama-era rule gives “a blueprint to those who would like to do us harm,” adding that existing regulations will remain in place to continue ensuring the safety of chemical plants and other facilities.

Source: Insurance Journal

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“CSB Releases New Safety Video Detailing Investigation into 2013 Fatal Fire and Explosion at the Williams Olefins Plant in Geismar, LA”

January 25, 2017, Washington, DC –

Today the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a safety video of its investigation of the June 13, 2013 explosion and fire at the Williams Olefins Plant in Geismar, Louisiana, which killed two workers and injured an additional 167.  The deadly explosion and fire occurred when a heat exchanger containing flammable liquid propane violently ruptured.

The CSB’s newly released 12-minute safety video entitled, “Blocked In,” includes a 3D animation of the explosion and fire as well as interviews with CSB investigator Lauren Grim and Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland. The video is based on the CSB’s case study on the Williams incident and can be viewed on the CSB’s website and YouTube.

Chairperson Sutherland said, “Our investigation on the explosion at Williams describes an ineffective process safety management program at the plant at the time of the incident. We urge other companies to incorporate our recommendations at their facilities and to assess the state of their cultures to promote safety at all organizational levels to prevent a similar accident. ”

The CSB’s investigation found many process safety management program deficiencies at Williams, which set the stage for the incident. In particular, the CSB found that the heat exchanger that failed was completely isolated from its pressure relief valve.

In the video, Investigator Lauren Grim said, “When evaluating overpressure protection requirements for heat exchangers, engineers must think about how to manage potential scenarios, including unintentional hazards. In this case, simply having a pressure relief valve available could have prevented the explosion.”

The CSB investigation concluded that in the twelve years leading to the incident, a series of process safety management program deficiencies caused the heat exchanger to be unprotected from overpressure.  As revealed in the investigation, during that time Management of Change Reviews, Pre-Startup Safety Reviews, and Process Hazard Analyses all failed to effectively identify and control the hazard.

In addition, the CSB found that Williams failed to develop a written procedure for activities performed on the day of the incident, nor did the company have a routine maintenance schedule to prevent the operational heat exchanger from needing to be shut down for cleaning.

Finally, the video describes CSB’s recommendations made to the Williams Geismar plant which  encourages similar companies to review and incorporate into their own facilities. These include:

– Conduct safety culture assessments that involve workforce participation, and communicate the results in reports that recommend specific actions to address safety culture weaknesses

– Develop a robust safety indicators tracking program that uses the data identified to drive continual safety improvement

– And perform comprehensive process safety program assessments to thoroughly evaluate the effectiveness of the facility’s process safety programs.

“Managers must implement and then monitor safety programs and encourage a strong culture of safety to protect workers and the environment,” Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said,

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. CSB investigations examine all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but makes safety recommendations to companies, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Please visit our website, http://www.csb.gov.

For more information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen at public@csb.gov or by phone at 202.446.8095.

 

“OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard To Add Two Additional Fit-Testing Protocols”

OSHA Trade ReleaseDOL Logo


U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Office of Communications
Washington, D.C.
www.osha.gov
For Immediate Release

 

October 6, 2016
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

OSHA proposes to amend respiratory protection standard to add
two additional fit-testing protocols

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to add two quantitative fit-testing protocols to the agency’s Respiratory Protection Standard. The protocols would apply to employers in the general, shipyard and construction industries.

Appendix A of the standard contains mandatory respirator fit-testing methods that employers must use to ensure their employees’ respirators fit properly and protect the wearer. The standard also allows individuals to submit new fit-test protocols for OSHA approval. TSI Incorporated submitted an application for new protocols for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators, and filtering facepiece respirators.

The existing standard contains mandatory testing methods to ensure that employees’ respirators fit properly and are protective. The standard also states that additional fit-test protocols may be submitted for OSHA approval. TSI Incorporated submitted an application for new protocols for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators, and filtering facepiece respirators. The proposed protocols are variations of the existing OSHA-accepted PortaCount® protocol, but differ from it by the exercise sets, exercise duration, and sampling sequence.

The agency invites the public to comment on the accuracy and reliability of the proposed protocols, their effectiveness in detecting respirator leakage, and their usefulness in selecting respirators that will protect employees from airborne contaminants in the workplace. More specific issues for public comment are listed in the Federal Register notice.

Individuals may submit comments electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Comments may also be submitted by mail or facsimile; see the Federal Register notice for details. The deadline for submitting comments is Dec. 6, 2016.

This proposed rulemaking would allow employers greater flexibility in choosing fit-testing methods for employees. The proposed rule would not require an employer to update or replace current fit-testing methods, as long as the fit-testing method(s) currently in use meet existing standards. The proposal also would not impose additional costs on any private- or public-sector entity.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department’s Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).

“Regulated Industry Successfully Challenges New OSHA Process Safety Management Enforcement Policies”

On September 23, 2016, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) wrongfully adopted new safety requirements for fertilizer dealers who have to comply with the Process Safety Management Standard. Specifically, OSHA improperly issued a memorandum redefining the “retail facility” exemption and did not allow fertilizer dealers to comment on the new rules.

OSHA has promulgated a Process Safety Management (PSM) standard that implements certain requirements for employers to protect the safety of those who work with or near highly hazardous chemicals, and help prevent unexpected releases of such chemicals. Traditionally, retail establishments do not have to comply with the PSM standard because hazardous chemicals are present only in small volumes in such instances.

Following a 2013 explosion at a West Texas Fertilizer facility (videos above) that left 15 people dead after a large amount of ammonium nitrate caught fire, OSHA issued an enforcement memorandum expanding the scope of the PSM standard to cover more retail establishments, including agricultural dealers who sell anhydrous ammonia to farmers. Yet OSHA did this without requesting comments from the public or industry.

Working with legal counsel, the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and The Fertilizer Institute organized a successful lawsuit challenging the new rule. The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that OSHA violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when it issued the enforcement memorandum, finding that OSHA had engaged in rulemaking, and was thus bound to solicit comments from the public and industry. As a result of the successful lawsuit, ag retailers do not have to comply with the PSM standard until OSHA receives comments from the public and industry regarding the proposed changes to the PSM standard, which could take several years to finalize.

Commenting on the decision, Harold Cooper, chairman of the ARA, said that “[a]s an industry, ag retailers tend to be complacent about regulations that come our way. We keep our heads down and do what’s required,” he said. “But this rule would have limited farmers’ and retailers’ options through an agency’s improper regulatory overreach. Thankfully, ARA was uniquely prepared and positioned to defend our industry. They gave us a vehicle to fight and win this battle.”

The court’s ruling will make it more difficult in the future for OSHA to issue de facto standards without undertaking proper rulemaking procedures and soliciting comments from the public. Companies should proactively work with skilled legal counsel who can assist on rulemaking processes that impact workplace health and safety.

Source: 9/27/2016 by Daniel BirnbaumMichael Taylor  | BakerHostetler

 

 

 

 

 

“Case Studies on Safer Alternatives for Solvent Degreasing Applications”

parts-washer

The transition to sustainable manufacturing is best accomplished by using pollution prevention (P2) approaches. This paper summarizes a number of case studies that highlight the P2 approach of switching to aqueous and less toxic metal cleaners to reduce health risks and manufacturing costs. EPA compiled these case studies as a supplement to “Pollution Prevention (P2) Spotlight: Reducing Trichloroethylene (TCE) Waste in the Fabricated Metals Sector.”

What are cleaning solvents and how are they used?

Cleaning solvents are used to remove oil, grease, solder flux, and other contaminants. Facilities that produce metal products often use solvents and other chemicals as degreasers to clean metal parts in preparation for further finishing operations, like painting or welding.

Trends in the reduced use of TCE reported by the fabricated metals sector to EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) database:

Trichloroethylene (TCE): used as a solvent for metal degreasing, as well as a refrigerant and in dry cleaning fluid. TCE is a volatile organic compound (VOC) that poses a human health hazard to the central nervous system, kidney, liver, immune system, reproductive system, and to the developing fetus. TCE is also characterized by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure (i.e., by inhalation, ingestion, and dermal exposure). Learn more about TCE.

Methyl chloroform (TCA): used as a solvent and in some consumer products. Exposure to TCA can result in mild motor impairment (e.g., increased reaction time), lightheadedness, impaired balance, and lack of muscle control in acutely exposed humans. Cardiac arrhythmia and respiratory arrest may result from the depression of the central nervous system.

Dichloromethane (DCM, methylene chloride): used as a solvent in paint strippers, a process solvent in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and film coatings, a propellant in aerosols, and a solvent for metal cleaning and finishing in electronics manufacturing. Effects of short-term (acute) exposures to workers and consumers, including bystanders, can result in harm to the central nervous system, or neurotoxicity. Effects of longer periods of exposure (chronic) for workers includes liver toxicity, liver cancer, and lung cancer. Learn more about DCM.

Case Studies:

1. Schick (formerly American Safety Razor) in Verona, Virginia, manufactures a variety of blades and tools from steel stock. TCE was used as a cleaning solvent in both liquid and vapor cleaning/degreasing operations at a newly acquired facility. Schick’s prior experience with TCE as a potential environmental contaminant, combined with increasing costs associated with its distillation and waste disposal and higher regulatory risk, made TCE elimination a priority.

Schick installed aqueous “wash boxes” on production lines to replace TCE-based cleaning processes, and also used an alcohol-based vapor degreaser as an effective substitute. TCE use has been completely eliminated at this plant. In addition to risk reduction, these P2 measures have resulted in an estimated cost reduction of $250,000 a year from reduced energy, material and hazardous waste disposal costs.

Learn more: www.epa.gov/p2/pollution-prevention-accomplishments-schick-manufacturing-verona-virginia

2. Lightolier in Fall River, Massachusetts, fabricates aluminum reflectors for lighting product lines. The facility was using large amounts of TCE and acids annually. Only 10 percent of the used TCE was captured for recycling. In addition, the company became aware of hidden costs such as liability, worker safety, and opportunities for increased productivity.

Furthermore, Lightolier’s degreasing systems were old and required increasing maintenance. The company replaced the TCE degreasers with an aqueous degreaser and a powder coat degreaser. In addition, switching from pure petroleum lubricants to water-soluble coolants would eliminate the generation of oily parts in the first place.

Since removing the degreasers and making other improvements such as installing still-rinse tanks, implementing countercurrent rinsing, and increasing the drip time to reduce acid discharges, the company has eliminated approximately 1.25 million lbs of TCE and saved an estimated $170,000. Volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions have dropped 90 percent from 125,000 to 12,000 lbs per year, also significantly reducing air compliance costs.

Learn more: www.turi.org/TURI_Publications/Case_Studies/Process_Efficiency/

3. V.H. Blackinton & Co., Inc in North Attleboro, MA, is a large manufacturing operation — blanking, stamping, punching and machining raw stock prior to cleaning, enameling, brazing, polishing, plating and refinishing — of metal plated items. The facility had used ozone-depleting Freon, as well as TCE and other VOCs and ammonia but was able to eliminate them.

Blackinton eliminated the use of Freon by replacing the existing finished work dryer with one that uses a deionized water rinse and hot air. The TCE cleaning operations were replaced with an aqueous cleaning system. Approximately 45 gallons of water-based cleaner is used annually, achieved by carefully monitoring the bath chemistry and ultra-filtering the cleaner weekly for reuse. In addition, a small in-tank filter, an oil skimmer, and conversion to compatible water-based pressing and stamping oils, made the new aqueous cleaning system more efficient.

More recently, new brazing furnaces with belts twice as wide as those in the old furnaces were installed, doubling the process capacity. The new furnaces use a 25 percent hydrogen and 75 percent nitrogen mix, eliminating over 20,000 lbs a year of disassociated anhydrous ammonia used in the old furnaces. The cost of the new system and quality of the finished product is the same or better. A close looped cooling water system that reuses water for the furnaces conserves 5000 gallons per day and additional water conservation activities eliminate the use of more than 25,000 gallons per day.

Learn more: www.turi.org/Our_Work/Business/Industry_Sectors/Metal_Finishing/May-20-2004-Metal-Finishing-Forum/Handouts/Case-Studies/Case-Study-V.-H.-Blackington-Company Exit

4. Danfoss Chatleff LLC in Buda, Texas, manufactures refrigeration and air conditioning components, and had been using a TCE-based degreaser to remove machine oil from metal parts. The facility replaced TCE with an aqueous degreaser/parts washer and evaporator eliminating 9,900 lbs of hazardous waste per year and saving the facility $36,000/year. (Danfoss estimates saving approximately $10,000 per year in disposal costs and $1,000 in training and reporting costs.) The new cleaning process requires less operator time, estimated to be worth $25,000/year. By eliminating the use of TCE, Danfoss also significantly reduced future environmental risk/liability associated with the shipping, storage, and use of a hazardous chemical.

Learn more: www.zerowastenetwork.org/success/story.cfm?StoryID=1155&RegionalCenter Exit

5. Perkins Products Inc. in Chicago, Illinois, was using mineral spirits for parts cleaning to remove straight cutting oil from metal work pieces in the milling department. The company replaced these solvents with aqueous detergents. The detergent was found to be safer for employees, better for the environment, less expensive and compatible with current production process. A total of 1,600 gallons of solvent were eliminated, 10,400 lbs of VOCs were avoided, and $500 saved per year, with only a one-year return on investment period.

Learn more: www.istc.illinois.edu/info/library_docs/TN/TN15-116.pdf Exit (2 pp, 668.6 K, About PDF)

6. Marathon in Ashland, Minnesota, had been using a terpene-based cleaner and petroleum distillate for external cleaning of large equipment. The terpene solvent was suspected to be impairing the biological processes of the refinery’s wastewater treatment plant. During testing, two aqueous cleaners were applied as a foam that adhered to vertical surfaces for several minutes — enough time for the cleaner to work — then rinsed off with hot water. The refinery staff using one of the foaming agents described the result as “requiring less chemical, less time and less water, while providing better results” compared to the terpene-based cleaner.

Learn more: www.mntap.umn.edu/mach/resources/marathon.htm Exit

7. Lockheed Martin Defense Systems in Pittsfield, Minnesota, used 125 tons each year of 1,1,1- trichloroethane (trichlor, 1,1,1-TCA, methyl chloroform) and chloroflourocarbon-113 (CFC-113, Freon) in 39 vapor degreasers to clean precision products, emitting 70 tons of these chemicals each year into the air.

The company evaluated alternative cleaners for economic and technical feasibility and potential worker health and safety impact. Ultimately, seven aqueous systems and two semi-aqueous systems replaced 36 of the 39 degreasers and reduced facility solvent use to less than 2 tons per year, and air emissions to less than 1 ton per year. Cost savings included: $497,000 in solvent procurement; $17,500 in waste disposal and $65,000 in permitting and record keeping. The company incorporated a “closed loop” aqueous cleaning system in the transmission assembly and repair process. The system included a variety of substrates (steel, stainless steel, aluminum, cast iron, and bronze) and contaminants (plastic and oil, grease, wax and metal, plastic or rubber shavings) requiring removal. This process reduced consumption of 2,000,000 gallons of water per year and saved $3,450 in water and sewer costs.

Learn more: www3.epa.gov/ttn/atw/hlthef/trichlor.html

8. Dayton Rogers metal stamping facility in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was using TCA as a vapor degreaser to remove forming lubricant oil from parts prior to dry-sander deburring. The solvent was eliminated by upgrading its deburring operation to deburr and clean parts simultaneously. The company modified the vibratory tumbling machines to increase throughput, added a wet sander and switched to a water-based lubricant so that removing the forming lubricants would be easier in the water-based deburring system. This resulted in saving $26,575 per year and a payback period for the equipment of approximately three months. This approach would be suitable in stamping and machining operation where deburring is done, but precision cleaning is not necessary.

Learn more: mntap.umn.edu/mach/resources/87-Deburring.htm Exit

9. Rosemount Aerospace Inc. in Burnsville, Minnesota, used TCA during sensor cleaning at a large manufacturer of aircraft data instrumentation. After sensor assembly, the TCA comes in contact with silicone oil during testing to remove the oil before a soldering process. Aqueous cleaners tested on the sensors removed light oils and fingerprints at least as well as the existing vapor degreasing system and eliminated worker exposure to TCA.

Learn more: www.mntap.umn.edu/mach/resources/Rose-it6.htm Exit

10. APS Materials Inc., a small metal finishing company in Dayton, Ohio, used TCA and methanol in its degreasing operation to clean orthopedic implants such as those used for metal knee and hip replacements. A dilute limonene solution was tested as replacement cleaner. This dilute terpene-based cleaner adequately cleaned metal parts without adversely affecting the performance of the plasma-arc coating application. The replacement cleaner resulted in a cost savings of $4,800 per year and a payback period of 4.5 months. Elimination of the disposal problems associated with methanol and TCA, coupled with the maintenance of plasma-arc coating quality, makes the use of terpene-based cleaners attractive to other plasma spray coating processes as well as other metal cleaning/coating operations.

Learn more: citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.405.5454&rep=rep1&type=pdf

11. Roberts Automatic Products, a third generation family-owned precision production machining company in Chanhassen, Minnesota specializes in precise and complex computer numeric control (CNC) machining and screw machine parts. Roberts used DCM as a degreasing solvent to clean its parts and reported to TRI as much as 40,000 pounds a year of DCM wastes that were released or treated by the plant.

Roberts purchased the Serec closed-loop vacuum degreasing unit in 2011 and put it into service in 2012. Roberts reduced its DCM waste to 13,636 pounds from more than 44,000 pounds the previous year. The facility is no longer required to file TRI reports for DCM and has eliminated DCM as a source of toxic waste and a hazardous air pollutant.

Learn more: www.epa.gov/toxics-release-inventory-tri-program/reducing-dichloromethane-waste

 

“TSCA Reform: A Simple 5-point Summary of What You Need to Know “

After 40 years, the Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA) has been reformed in an effort to more effectively manage chemicals in this country and give EPA more authority to evaluate and mitigate the associated risks. This infographic summarizes the important points of TSCA reform.

TF-TSCA-reform-info

“Maximum Civil Penalties for Violations of Environmental (USEPA) Statutes Are Now Significantly Higher After Inflation Adjustment”

EPA-Logo130418

In a federal rulemaking published last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued interim final regulations adjusting the maximum civil penalty dollar amounts for violations of various provisions of law. 81 Fed. Reg. 43091 (July 1, 2016).

The recently enacted Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (2015 Act), not only required an adjustment form current penalty maximum levels to account for inflation, but also included a catch-up provision for inflation. That requires each agency to evaluate and provide for an inflation adjustment dating back to the enactment of the relevant statute’s effective date. (Section 5(b)(2)(C) of the 2015 Act provides that the maximum amount of any initial catch-up increase shall not exceed 150 percent of the level that was in effect on November 2, 2015.) See related Implementation of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act, OMB Memorandum M-16-06 (February 24, 2016). In addition, beginning January 15, 2017, each agency must make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation.

EPA’s interim final rule revises Table 2 to 40 CFR 19.4, showing the results of the Agency’s calculations and adjustments, that include: (1) the maximum or minimum penalty level established when each statutory section was originally enacted or last adjusted by Congress; and (2) the statutory maximum or minimum civil penalty level, adjusted for inflation under the 2015 Act, that applies to statutory civil penalties assessed on or after August 1, 2016 for violations that occurred after November 2, 2015.

Readers familiar with EPA’s penalty structure know that statutory penalties of $25,000 per day per violation were previously adjusted for inflation to $37,500. With the catch up provision under the interim final rule, the maximum penalty will vary by statute. For example, the $25,000 per violation penalty under the Clean Air Act is now $44,539; under the Clean Water Act is now $44,539; under RCRA is now in a range of $56,467 to $70,117, and under CERCLA (including most EPCRA violations) is now $53,907. Other maximum penalties are also adjusted.

The new civil penalty amounts are applicable only to civil penalties assessed after Aug. 1, 2016, whose associated violations occurred after Nov. 2, 2015.

For more information on this or any related topic please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Environmental Compliance, Enforcement & Permitting Team.

Source: Seyfarth, Shaw

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