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EPA urges chemical facilities to prepare for Gulf Coast hurricane season

Photo: Stocktrek Images/gettyimages

Dallas — During inclement weather, facility operators are obligated to maintain safety, minimize any chemical/oil releases and discharges, and report them in a timely manner.

This reminder from the Environmental Protection Agency comes ahead of the Gulf Coast hurricane season, which begins June 1.

EPA notes in a press release that the obligations are required under regulations including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980; the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986; and the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan.

In the release, EPA says its emergency response teams are preparing to respond to any chemical or oil release or discharge during the hurricane season.

“Staff members known as on-scene coordinators are trained in disaster response and work with state, local and tribal partners to prepare for potential storms,” the agency says. “This includes providing guidelines for industrial facilities for preventing, minimizing and reporting chemical releases.”

EPA outlines basic steps to help facility operators prepare for severe weather:

  • Review procedures for shutting down processes and securing facilities appropriately – especially hazardous chemical storage. Otherwise, implement appropriate safe operating procedures.
  • Review updated state/federal guidelines for flooding preparedness.
  • Ensure all employees are familiar with requirements and procedures to contact the National Response Center in case a spill or release occurs.
  • Review local response contacts, including local emergency planning committees and state emergency response commissions. An EPA webpage has a list of these contacts by state.

“In the spring, on-scene coordinators from EPA Region 6 coordinate with LEPCs, which include local response personnel from city or county emergency management, police, fire, and other departments to prepare for hurricane season,” the release states. “OSCs also regularly coordinate and train with state emergency management teams and other federal agencies to prepare for various disaster scenarios.”

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