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SOCMA highlights contribution to facility security report

By Dan Stanton , 16-Jun-2014

A US presidential report on plans to improve chemical facility safety and security has incorporated a number of recommendations from the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA).

The report prepared for President Obama comes off the back of several chemical facility incidents in the US which led to Executive Order (EO) 13650 – a multi-agency collaboration which formed the Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group - being issued in August last year.

According to the report , the US produces over 70,000 chemicals, many of which are used in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals, whilst employing close to a million people and generating an annual revenue of $700bn (€517bn).

“This new report, ‘Actions to Improve Chemical Facility Safety and Security—A Shared Commitment,’ is appropriately titled,” said Bill Allmond, VP of Government and Public Relations at SOCMA. “While we will continue to study the report in the coming days, we are encouraged that several recommendations SOCMA put forth made it into the final report.”

The report’s “recognition of the need to maximize stakeholder input and strengthen communication between the federal government and state and local emergency planning committees,” was also high-lighted by the industry body, as was SOCMA’s chemical stewardship programme, ChemStewards.

The scheme is an environmental, health, safety and security (EHS&S) management programme designed by SOCMA to meet the needs of the batch, custom and specialty chemical industry, and is a mandatory requirement for SOCMA members engaged in the manufacturing or handling of synthetic and organic chemicals.

The presidential report noted that it was typically smaller facilities which were not complying with health and safety regulations and lauded such programmes as ChemStewards as helping to “identify facilities that are not compliant with Federal regulations.”

Some of the incidents high-lighted in the report included two fatalities at an ammonia plant in Louisville, Kentucky, a fire at a facility in Bayamón, Puerto Rico which led to a state of emergency and a fire caused by a flammable vapour that led to 15,000 injuries in Richmond, California.

Last year, a blast at a Teva API plant in Ramat Hovav, Israel caused one death and injured 30.

For pharmaceuticals, some ingredients are “as explosive as gunpowder,” an expert at contract manufacturer Novasep told this publication last year.

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