Editor’s note: The following blog post is co-authored by Caitlin Durkovich, Assistant Secretary, Office of Infrastructure Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; David Michaels, Assistant Secretary, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor; and Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
On Aug. 1, 2013, the president issued Executive Order 13650 − Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security − to improve the safety and security of chemical facilities and reduce the risks of hazardous chemicals to facility workers and operators, communities, and responders. Chemicals and the facilities that manufacture, store, distribute and use them are essential to our economy and livelihood, but the handling and storage of chemicals can present a risk that must be addressed.
Over the past 10 months, we have taken critical steps in bringing together federal regulatory representatives and stakeholders with a vested interest in reducing the risks associated with the handling and storage of chemicals. These efforts truly represent a shared concern among those with a stake in chemical facility safety and security: facility owners and operators; federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments; regional entities; nonprofit organizations; facility workers; first responders; environmental justice and local environmental organizations; and communities.
Today’s release of the status report to the president, entitled Actions to Improve Chemical Facility Safety and Security – A Shared Commitment, summarizes the Working Group’s progress, focusing on actions to date, findings and lessons learned, challenges, and short and long-term priority actions. These priority actions, captured in a consolidated action plan, based on the information collected by the Working Group, focus on five specific thematic areas:
- Strengthen Community Planning and Preparedness
- Enhance Federal Operational Coordination
- Improve Data Management
- Modernize Policies and Regulation
- Incorporate Stakeholder Feedback and Develop Best Practices
We want to underscore that this report is a milestone, not an endpoint. While the report describes many activities already undertaken to improve chemical facility safety and security, it also makes clear that much additional work is necessary to implement the consolidated action plan. We now transition to this implementation, an effort that will be completed over time and require the collective efforts of all of us with a stake in chemical facility safety and security.
Safety and security are a shared commitment. As actions in this report are pursued, we recognize that the federal government must put in place a transparent, inclusive process that continues to engage all stakeholders. We ask for continued engagement and active participation by all with a stake in chemical facility safety and security: communities, first responders, workers and industry; local, tribal, state, and federal government.
Read the Working Group’s report to the president: Actions to Improve Chemical Facility Safety and Security – A Shared Commitment.