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March 1, 2024

1 Min Read
EPA protects residents near chemical plants
The rule was first proposed by the EPA in 2022.Image courtesy of Robert Brook / The Image Bank via Getty Images

US environmental regulators on Friday finalized a rule to enact new safety measures at chemical facilities in order to reduce the frequency and severity of accidents that occur in largely minority communities.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will now require regulated facilities to perform a Safer Technologies and Alternatives Analysis (STAA), an amendment the environmental justice community wants but is opposed by petrochemical and manufacturing industries who argued against additional costs the regulation would impose, Reuters reported.

The rule follows releases of toxic hydrofluoric acid at refineries in recent years. The EPA is also requiring that all hydrofluoric alkylation processes at petroleum refineries implement safeguards that help prevent or mitigate chemical releases. EPA first proposed the rule in 2022 to protect at-risk communities located near facilities that have industrial sectors with high accident rates.

In its ruling, The EPA cited a 2019 explosion and fire at TPC Group's Port Neches, TX petrochemical facility, which prompted numerous local evacuation orders that displaced 50,000 people. The chemical fire was due to a fundamental failure in the system, according to the US Chemical Safety Board.

"Had the provisions being finalized today been in effect prior to the TPC Group accident, the facility would have been required to perform a safer technologies and alternatives analysis and implement at least one safeguard measure, which may have mitigated or prevented the accident from occurring," the EPA said in a statement.

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