U.S. Agencies Issue New Security Warning for Chemical Culprit In Texas Explosion

Douglas P. Guarino, Global Security Newswire
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Douglas P. Guarino, Global Security Newswire
Sept. 3, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

WASH­ING­TON — Three fed­er­al agen­cies on Fri­day is­sued a new se­cur­ity warn­ing for the ex­plos­ive chem­ic­al be­lieved to have triggered an April dis­aster the in West, Texas – prompt­ing praise from a key sen­at­or.

The ad­vis­ory, is­sued by the U.S. En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency, Oc­cu­pa­tion­al Safety and Health Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Bur­eau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Fire­arms and Ex­plos­ives, per­tains to am­moni­um ni­trate, which is be­lieved to have been stored in sig­ni­fic­ant quant­it­ies at the Texas fer­til­izer plant that ex­ploded, lev­el­ing homes and killing 14 people.

EPA of­fi­cials said in a state­ment that the alert “provides les­sons learned for fa­cil­ity own­ers and op­er­at­ors, emer­gency plan­ners and first re­spon­ders from re­cent in­cid­ents,” in­clud­ing the April tragedy.

Dur­ing a con­gres­sion­al hear­ing on the in­cid­ent in June, Sen­at­or Bar­bara Box­er (D-Cal­if.) slammed EPA of­fi­cials for what she said was a lack of ac­tion aimed at pro­tect­ing the pub­lic from do­mest­ic-chem­ic­al threats. In par­tic­u­lar, Box­er, who chairs the Sen­ate En­vir­on­ment and Pub­lic Works Com­mit­tee, cri­ti­cized the agency for not hav­ing is­sued an alert on am­moni­um ni­trate since 1997.

In a state­ment on Fri­day, Box­er said she was “very grate­ful” the ad­min­is­tra­tion is­sued the up­date.

“After the ter­rible ex­plo­sion in West, which took the lives of at least 14 people in­clud­ing first re­spon­ders, I pledged that the EPW Com­mit­tee would fo­cus on how to pre­vent such need­less tra­gedies in the fu­ture,” Box­er said. “If am­moni­um ni­trate is stored safely or if al­tern­at­ives are used, ex­plo­sions could have been pre­ven­ted in the past and more ex­plo­sions could be pre­ven­ted in the fu­ture.”

EPA of­fi­cials have yet to is­sue new rules on chem­ic­al risk man­age­ment, which Box­er said dur­ing the June hear­ing had been re­com­men­ded by a 2002 U.S. Chem­ic­al Safety Board re­port, and for which labor and en­vir­on­ment­al groups have since pe­ti­tioned the agency.

Pres­id­ent Obama in Au­gust did, however, sign an ex­ec­ut­ive or­der dir­ect­ing the Home­land Se­cur­ity, Labor and Ag­ri­cul­ture sec­ret­ar­ies to “de­vel­op a list of po­ten­tial reg­u­lat­ory and le­gis­lat­ive pro­pos­als to im­prove the safe and se­cure stor­age, hand­ling, and sale of am­moni­um ni­trate.” The or­der also called on EPA and OSHA of­fi­cials to re­view wheth­er their chem­ic­al risk-man­age­ment pro­grams should cov­er ad­di­tion­al chem­ic­als.

The pres­id­en­tial dir­ect­ive also ad­dressed the is­sue of so-called “out­lier” fa­cil­it­ies that, like the Texas fa­cil­ity, the Home­land Se­cur­ity De­part­ment failed to reg­u­late un­der its Chem­ic­al Fa­cil­ity Anti-Ter­ror­ism Stand­ards. The or­der es­tab­lished a chem­ic­al fa­cil­ity safety and se­cur­ity work­ing group, through which sev­er­al fed­er­al agen­cies are ex­pec­ted to work to­geth­er to im­prove their co­ordin­a­tion with state and loc­al gov­ern­ments.

What We're Following See More »
THANKS TO MILITARY ROLE
McMaster Requires Congressional Approval
19 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Congress will need to vote on Donald Trump's pick of Lt. General H.R. McMaster to be his next national security adviser, but not for the reason you think. The position of NSA doesn't require Senate approval, but since McMaster currently holds a three-star military position, Congress will need to vote to allow him to keep his position instead of forcing him to drop one star and become a Major General, which could potentially affect his pension.

Source:
SENT LETTERS TO A DOZEN ORGANIZATIONS
Senate Intel Looks to Preserve Records of Russian Interference
23 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Senate Intelligence Committee is seeking to ensure that records related to Russia’s alleged intervention in the 2016 U.S. elections are preserved as it begins investigating that country’s ties to the Trump team. The panel sent more than a dozen letters to 'organizations, agencies and officials' on Friday, asking them to preserve materials related to the congressional investigation, according to a Senate aide, who was not authorized to comment publicly. The Senate Intelligence Committee is spearheading the most comprehensive probe on Capitol Hill of Russia’s alleged activities in the elections."

Source:
WON’T INTERFERE IN STRUCTURING NSC OFFICE
White House to Give McMaster Carte Blanche
1 days ago
THE LATEST
NAIVE, RISK TAKER
Russia Compiling Dossier on Trump’s Mind
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Retired Russian diplomats and members of Vladimir Putin's staff are compiling a dossier "on Donald Trump's psychological makeup" for the Russian leader. "Among its preliminary conclusions is that the new American leader is a risk-taker who can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser."

Source:
PLANS TO CURB ITS POWER
Pruitt Confirmed As EPA Head
5 days ago
BREAKING
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login