Senator Boxer calls US chemical facility safety “outrageous” and “unacceptable”

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Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from

This general topic: hazardous chemicals, their storage, and how they can affect the general public, is one that has been discussed on the blog before. It is an important topic, and folks should read the entire article below to learn about the lack of progress in keeping the country’s communities safe from hazardous chemicals, including ammonium nitrate.

The section about OSHA was very useful and included both a gut check and a road map of sorts about how workers could be better protected from the huge number of chemical incidents that have occurred since the West, Texas, explosion in April 2013.

“The cap on OSHA’s fine for a serious violation, Michaels (Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) David Michaels) explained, is $7000; for a willful violation, $70,000.” Michaels went on to explain, “To a small company that’s a significant deterrent. But to large employers, especially petrochemical plants, that’s not even the cost of doing business.” It was noted in the article that Congress hasn’t amended OSHA’s penalties “since 1990 and only once since OSHA was established.”

“We would be very grateful,” said Michaels, “if Congress would allow us to issue penalties at a much greater level.”

I would concur that if OSHA’s broken regulatory system were given more teeth, that many more workers in the United States would be safer in the new year.

Today’s post is shared from

As last week’s Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing made abundantly clear, communities throughout the United States are at ongoing risk from potentially disastrous incidents involving hazardous chemicals. A new Congressional Research Service report released concurrently by Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA), details how thousands of facilities across the country that store and use hazardous chemicals are located in communities, putting millions of Americans at risk. Yet this list of facilities, Senator Markey’s office points out, may not be complete. The report analyzes US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data on locations where at least one of 140 different extremely hazardous materials are stored. But this EPA list does not include the highly explosive substance ammonium nitrate – the chemical involved in the April 2013 West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people and injured approximately 200.

What has happened – or more precisely, not happened – since that incident was the focus of the December 11th Senate hearing. The hearing, convened jointly with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, was held to review progress made in implementing President Obama’s Executive Order 13650 issued in August 2013 in the wake of the West, Texas disaster.

“In the 602 days since the West, Texas tragedy there have been 355 chemical…

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