Report recommends safety measures to prevent chemical disasters

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 3:52 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Some think more needs to be done to reduce risk from chemical leaks and explosions from industries.

The explosion at Westlake Chemical in January is one of three featured in a report profiling explosions and safety measures that authors said EPA can require right now to to prevent future chemical disasters.

Authors of the report wrote six workers were injured and 7,000 students in a dozen schools had to shelter in place. Steve Taylor said their report includes three case studies of serious chemical incidents, including Westlake.

“That happened within two weeks of each other, in January of this year, and each of those incidents and the failures that led up to them provides important insights for how EPA needs to strengthen this rule to prevent chemical disasters,” Taylor said.

Taylor says Westlake Chemicals would be exempt from certain requirements that might make it safer.

“The history of incidents at the facility and the dangers posed by that facility help to show why the chemical disaster prevention rule, which is known as the risk management plan rule, needs to be strengthened and why that’s so urgently needed,” said Taylor.

A spokesperson for Westlake Chemical said they do not comment on third party research.

Jim Rock of the Lake Area Industry Alliance said they are aware of the EPA proposed revisions to the Risk Management Program dated Aug. 31, 2022.

“This document is currently under review and analysis by local industry. Our members work closely with the Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness and local law enforcement to ensure that we operate our facilities in a manner that is protective of the community in which we live, work and play. We recognize and take seriously our responsibility to be protective of the local community,” said Rock.

Read the report HERE and the news release HERE.

People may register for virtual public hearings on strengthening the Risk Management Program which will be held September 26 through 28th.