Federal agencies Regulation Chemical

OSHA, EPA need to revise ammonium nitrate regulations, GAO says

Washington – OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency should revise ammonium nitrate regulations to provide better oversight of facilities that use the chemical compound, which has been involved in several major incidents over the past century, according to a Government Accountability report released May 19.

GAO recommends that OSHA identify – and target for inspection – high-risk facilities that use or store ammonium nitrate. Additionally, EPA and OSHA should require high-risk facilities to assess risks and implement safeguards to prevent incidents involving the compound, the report states.

The GAO report comes about a month after the Chemical Safety Board released preliminary findings of its investigation into the 2013 ammonium nitrate explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas that killed 14 people – most of whom were firefighters responding to a blaze at the facility. CSB concluded that the explosion was preventable.

OSHA and EPA are working on revisions to their respective Process Safety Management Standard and Risk Management Program, which could change the agencies’ enforcement approach regarding the compound.