ARA Listening Session Discussion Points for White House Executive Order 13650: Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security

By Richard Gupton posted 11-04-2013 16:39

Please join the Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security (Executive Order 13650 (EO)) public listening session.

Government agencies are interested in hearing from the stakeholders described in the EO: chemical producers, chemical storage companies, agricultural supply companies, State and local regulators, chemical critical infrastructure owners and operators, first responders, labor organizations representing affected workers, environmental and community groups, and consensus standards organizations.

Attendees will have an opportunity to provide individual input on the process and the specific areas in the EO. These areas include improving operational coordination with States, Tribes, and local partners; enhanced information collection and sharing; modernizing regulations, guidance, and policies; and identifying best practices in chemical facility safety and security.

The Executive Order Working Group The Executive Order Working Group co-chaired by EPA, OSHA, DHS in collaboration with DOJ, USDA and DOT will share an overview of the various sections of the EO and the progress made to date, along with regulatory proposals that will impact retail operations.

Below are ARA’s Listening Session Discussion Points for White House Executive Order 13650: Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security.  Please feel free to voice your opinion on proposals and ideas offered by the administration.

ARA Listening Session Discussion Points for White House Executive Order 13650: Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security


  • Farmer Supply Retailers are scattered throughout all 50 states and range in size from local family-held businesses and farmer cooperatives to larger companies with hundreds of retail outlets across the USA.
  • Retailers play an important role feeding the world.
  • We provide farmers with essential crop input products (seed, fertilizer, crop protection products, fuel etc.).
  • Our industry is heavily regulated by federal agencies such as DHS, EPA, OSHA, DOT; we understand the importance of the safe storage, handling, transportation and security of Ammonium Nitrate (AN) and Anhydrous Ammonia.
  • We are saddened by the tragic incident that took place on April 17 at the fertilizer facility in West, Texas and we will continue to work together on common sense solutions to prevent or mitigate tragedies like West from happening again.
  • Our employees live and work in the local community. Protecting our employees, first responders and their neighbors is a top priority.
  • We are here to discuss potential solutions to prevent future tragedies while allowing our industry to protect their freedom to operate a viable business.

An Industry Increasing Safety:

  • We have communicated with and engaged employees, business partners and the community to foster a greater understanding of Environmental Health Safety and Security (EHS&S) matters regarding fertilizers.
  • We are in the process of setting up a framework for a management system called Responsible Ag that will help facilities establish foundational EHS&S performance practices.
  • We’ve also begun efforts to strengthen ongoing partnerships between the agricultural industry, local first responders and LEPCs.

Proposals for Regulations:

  • Regulations need to be practical, economically feasible and not outweigh the perceived benefits. We need to ensure that existing regulations are workable and easily understood by the regulated community and local first responders.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration  (OSHA)

  • The West facility was required to comply with specific OSHA regulations, including the Hazard Communication Standard and Explosives and Blasting Agents Standard 1910.190(i), which could have prevented or mitigated the incident.
  • Chemical Safety Board Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso testified before Congress that he is not aware of any accidental explosions of AN fertilizer where existing safety regulations of OSHA were followed.
    • For example, the AN was stored in a warehouse, in very close proximity to the seed area. Seed is an organic and combustible material, which could propagate the fire to areas where AN was stored. 1910.109(i) forbids comingling of AN and organic substances.
    • We support 1910.109(i) principals and efforts to increase safety for AN storage. Our industry looks forward to working with OSHA to review and potentially updating these regulations, which are based on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Codes.
    • We do not believe OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) standard should apply to retailers as it is designed for manufacturing facilities. If applied to retailers the economic burdens would far outweigh any potential benefits of increasing safety. It would also directly impact our ability to supply farmers with their product of choice.

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

  • Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA)
    We support the elimination from statute the fertilizer retail/ag exemption from the EPCRA, Sections 311 & 312 reporting requirements. It should be noted that West Fertilizer did include information on the AN stored at their facility in the Tier 2 report submitted to the local first responders.
  • Risk Management Program (RMP)
    Adding AN to the Risk Management Plan is unnecessary and difficult if not impossible to measure. Focus should remain on the safe storage and handling of AN following OSHA regulations as discussed earlier.

    Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism (CFATS):

  • The EO should support long-term/permanent authorization of existing risked-based, tiered approach program that increases security. As we have witnessed by the government shutdown, CFATS legally disappeared.

    AN Registration Form:

  • Support a simple AN registration Program registration program for solid, straight AN fertilizer, which does not include mixtures or broad base of nitrogen fertilizer products (at least when first launching program).
  • The Program should be modeled after Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP) programs administered by states or state AN registration program – both are familiar with the ag industry including farmers.

    Outreach with Industry:

    • Regulation alone is not the solution.
    • Outreach is an integral part of putting facilities like West on NOTICE that facilities need to protect their assets and comply with the law(s).
    • Facilities can’t comply with regulations if they don’t know who and what to comply with.
    • Easy, simple ways of communication works best, as well as fast and effective campaigns.
    • We are requesting that OSHA and other government stakeholders set up an Alliance Program structure for outreach for the agricultural supply community.
    • Under previous Alliance programs, stakeholders are able to develop compliance assistance tools and resources, share information with workers and employers, and educate workers on safe handling procedures. We find this is a great model moving forward in addition to creating joint webpages.