26 May 2004 17:49 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned chemical makers against the potential risk of reactive chemical accidents due to lack of awareness of potential on-site hazards, CNI learned Wednesday.
Reactivity hazards may be harder to identify than toxicity or corrosion, the EPA said in an alert issued by its Office of Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response.
The EPA said: "Your facility is at a higher risk of having an uncontrolled release if you don’t identify all the existing chemical reactivity hazards."
The EPA’s Center for Chemical Process Safety has developed a guide to help small and medium-sized facilities screen for reactive chemicals hazards, the alert said.
The guide, Essential Practices for Managing Chemical Reactivity Hazards, is meant to help plants identify where hazards may occur and could be applied to processing, mixing, repackaging and storage areas, according to EPA.
Chemical reactivity hazards have been a key issue of concern for the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). The CSB has urged US regulatory agencies such as EPA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Osha) to take bolder steps to monitor and regulate the handling of reactive chemicals.
The EPA said it is "striving to learn the causes and contributing factors associated with chemical accidents." But the agency also noted in its alert that major chemical accidents cannot be prevented "solely through regulatory requirements."
Officials at CSB could not be reached immediately for comment.
The EPA said facilities should begin a preliminary screening for potential chemical reactivity hazards by answering a series of basic questions outlined in the alert.
A link to the EPA's reactivity hazards alert is available at: http://yosemite.epa.gov/oswer/ceppoweb.nsf/content/ap-chsa.htm.
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