US EPA seen proposing more chemical plant security
WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency will soon propose rules directing 15,000 of the nation\'s chemical, water and waste-treatment facilities to size up their vulnerability to terrorist attack, a trade group said last week.
The new rules, which have the approval of the White House Office of Homeland Security, will require facility operators to propose plans to protect themselves from attack, the Agricultural Retailers Association said. Affected facilities include agrichemical plants.
The EPA declined to comment.
The potentially expensive rules derive from the Clean Air Act, which requires facilities to file emergency plans for dealing with the release of hazardous chemicals into the air, the association said.
Steve Hensley, director of regulatory policy at the association, raised concerns that conflicting and overlapping requirements issued by government agencies like the Department of Transportation and U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration could create expensive new requirements for its members, which include sellers of pesticides and fertilizers.
\"History tells us that when these competing agencies release these things, they don\'t talk to each other,\" Hensley said.
Previous EPA analysis shows that toxic chemicals stored at 123 chemical plants could endanger 1 million people if they are released into the air accidentally or through an attack.
Sen. Jon Corzine, a New Jersey Democrat, has introduced legislation that would encourage safeguards at chemical plants. The Senate Environment Committee will vote on the bill on June 27, and it must still be approved by the full Congress before it is enacted.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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