Sen. Tom Carper is asking Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to respond to potential shortcomings in the Arkema chemical facility’s readiness for a worst-case chemical incident and the Donald Trump administration’s deep budget cuts that were proposed for EPA’s chemical safety program.
Under the Clean Air Act, chemical facilities that store certain quantities of dangerous chemicals are required to implement a risk management plan for a worst-case release of chemicals due to an accident or a terrorist attack. On the morning of Aug. 31, the Crosby, Texas, facility, which manufactures volatile liquid organic peroxides and other toxic substances, experienced multiple explosions.
“According to reports, the facility lost its primary power supply because of the hurricane, but its emergency generators, which presumably were installed in order to mitigate against primary power outages, reportedly also failed, as did a secondary emergency cooling system,” Carper wrote. “I am concerned that the loss of offsite and emergency power combined with the evacuation of the facility has also reduced the facility’s ability to protect against a worst-case release of toxic sulfur dioxide gas, which the facility also contains.”
“In addition, I am concerned that the president’s FY 2018 budget request proposed to cut the EPA program responsible for inspecting chemical facilities to ensure they are safe by almost 35 percent,” Carper wrote. “Finally, I am also concerned that you recently decided to delay the implementation of a rule to improve the safety and emergency preparedness of chemical facilities by two years.”
The full text of Carper’s letter is available at bit.ly/2xM2WGJ.