Thursday, April 17, 2014

No action on safety in the year since the West Texas fertilizer explosion

One year ago today, a fertilizer plant in West Texas blew up and killed 15 people, injured 160 and flattened dozens of homes.

Chemical plants are still ticking time bombs as virtually nothing has been done to make them safer. (Here's why.)

The Teamsters are working with the Coalition for Sensible Standards to fight for stronger protections for workers and the public. The Coalition blog RegsTalk reminds us of our responsibility to make sure our system of safeguards and standards isn't dismantled:
Thursday, April 17, 2014 is the one year anniversary of the West, Texas fertilizer storage facility explosion, a disaster that devastated a community, claimed 15 lives, and injured over 160 others. The West Fertilizer Company supplied chemicals to farmers since it was founded in 1962, and was last inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1985. 
In the aftermath of the explosion, the operator of the fertilizer plant was cited for 24 safety violations and charged $118,300 in penalties. Safety violations included exposing workers to explosion hazards and chemical burns, unsafe handling and storage of chemicals, failing to have an emergency response plan and not having an appropriate number of fire extinguishers. 
The US Chemical Safety Board reported that regulation of the dangerous chemicals used in the industry fall under shoddy standards that are dated and far weaker than standards in other countries. However, Texas, which has the country’s highest number of workplace fatalities, is still wary of regulations. 

During the government shutdown 90% of CSB employees were furloughed, causing a delay in the investigation of the West, Texas disaster.
Please sign this petition here to tell the EPA to increase standards for chemical safety, work harder to ensure responsible chemical storage and transportation, and mandate that companies replace dangerous chemicals with safer alternatives.