Exemption Shields Some Fertilizer Plants from Safety Rules, Inspections

"The Texas fertilizer plant that blew up on April 17, killing at least 15 people, appears to have been claiming an arcane exemption that allowed it to avoid targeted workplace inspections and safety requirements and enter a 'streamlined prevention program' with environmental regulators, a government spokesman confirmed."

"The owner of the facility near Waco, West Chemical and Fertilizer, apparently determined that the exemption – a few words advocated by industry groups, including The Fertilizer Institute, as part of a 20-year-old regulation – applied. In the wake of the deadly blast in West, Texas, last month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating whether this claim was justified, an OSHA spokesman said.

By claiming the exemption, the company became subject to other, less stringent requirements and avoided certain OSHA and Environmental Protection Agency rules.

West Chemical and Fertilizer did not respond to requests for comment."

Chris Hamby reports for the Center for Public Integrity May 2, 2013.

SEE ALSO:

"Hearing On West Explosion Reveals Hazy Lines in State Oversight of Dangerous Chemicals" (Dallas Morning News)

"Thousands Of Chemical Facilities Pose A Risk To Populations Greater Than West, Texas" (Think Progress)

Source: Center for Public Integrity, 05/02/2013