EPA eyes risks to chemical plants in climate change factors

01 November 2013 18:06  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Friday that it will study whether chemical production and storage facilities in low-lying areas may be vulnerable to flooding and damage due to climate-related sea level increases.

The agency issued a draft plan for climate change adaptations that might be necessary for its own operations and those of regulated industries.

“The impacts of a changing climate - including increased extreme weather, floods and droughts - affect EPA’s work to protect clean air and water,” said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy.

She said that the draft plan recognises “that EPA must integrate climate adaptation planning into its programmes, policies, rules and operations to ensure that the agency’s work continues to be effective even as the climate changes”.

Within the draft adaptation plan, EPA’s office of pollution prevention and toxics (OPPT), which regulates industrial chemicals, noted that “Rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events increase the vulnerability to flooding and destruction of structures in low lying areas”.

“Chemical storage facilities may be located in low-lying areas and could be at risk of increasing potential for chemical releases into the environment as a result of major weather events,” the draft plan says.

“Similarly, industrial chemicals could be stored in low lying areas near ports and along the seaboard, rivers and other waterways” and might be vulnerable to climate-related risks, EPA said.

The agency said, however, that it “is not certain of the significance of this vulnerability”.

But "further study to determine the location of chemical facilities that may be at risk may be warranted,” the EPA said.

EPA officials were not immediately available to say whether the agency’s climate-change adaptation plans might require chemical facilities in low-lying areas to be moved to higher ground or otherwise be obliged to make major protective arrangements.

The draft plan is open to public comment until 3 January 2014.  The plan is available on the EPA website.

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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