DEP Commissioner Campbell
and Senator Corzine Urge Prevention of Chemical Accidents
For Community Safety
(03/31) Trenton Trenton-Department
of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M.
Campbell today joined with U.S. Senator Jon S. Corzine and
environmental safety and community leaders to support a
proposed expansion of New Jersey's Toxic Catastrophe Prevention
Act (TCPA) program to provide greater protection for residents
living near industrial facilities.
DEP has proposed to list certain reactive
chemicals as extraordinarily hazardous substances subject
to risk management planning requirements of TCPA. These
chemicals can explode with the simple, inadvertant exposure
to air or water or if inappropriately mixed with certain
other chemicals and can result in death or permanent disability
to people beyond a facility's property boundary.
"Our residents need greater protection
from the threat of hazardous chemical reactions in the industrial
process," said DEP Commissioner Campbell. "Improving
prevention plans to address the risks of reactives and to
incorporate safer technology is good for business as well
as for public safety."
More than 60 companies using reactive chemicals
that could cause industrial accidents and explosions will
now be covered by the proposed changes to the TCPA program.
The proposed amendments would require additional prevention
measures for 30 new reactive hazardous substances and 43
chemical groups, depending upon a company's volume and use
of the chemicals.
The amendments to the TCPA rules also reinstate
a requirement, which the state dropped in 1998, mandating
that all facilities regulated under the program evaluate
every five years state of the art technologies to reduce
the risk of an accident and implement this technology if
"New Jersey is setting the example
for the nation in requiring new environmental safeguards
to protect communities located around industrial plants,"
said Senator Corzine. "This measure will be used as
a model for other states to follow as we work to protect
our residents who live and work near facilities that use
"Senators Corzine and Lautenberg are
Congressional leaders on efforts to improve security and
implement safer technologies at companies using hazardous
materials," said Commissioner Campbell. "DEP is
grateful for their support of New Jersey's efforts to become
the first state in the nation to require companies using
reactive chemicals to develop better safety practices."
"When corporations fail to accept
their responsibility to protect citizens for the toxic chemicals
that they use and produce, the government must step in and
force them to do so," said Senator Frank Lautenberg.
New Jersey is the first state in the nation
to propose requiring companies handling reactive chemicals
to prepare accidental release prevention plans and examine
safer technologies to prevent industrial incidents like
the tragic ones that occurred at Napp Technologies in Lodi
in 1995 and at Morton International in Paterson in 1998.
The Napp and Morton International accidents were the result
of reactive chemistry interactions. The infamous explosion
at the Napp facility was caused when a reactive was inadvertently
exposed to water, resulting in five deaths, 40 residents
hospitalized, hundreds of residents evacuated and the mobilization
of 900 emergency responders from 30 towns. The Morton explosion
was the result of a reactive chemical being mixed too quickly
with another chemical.
The federal Chemical Safety and Hazard
Investigation Board, which is the agency responsible for
investigating chemical accidents, recently made recommendations
to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational
Safety and Health Administration concerning reactive hazards
and the need for additional regulation of reactive chemicals.
In 2001, the Bush Administration withdrew a plan to regulate
Currently, 105 companies are covered by
the TCPA program and must implement risk management programs.
These companies represent industries such as water treatment
plants, chemical manufacturers, food manufacturers and processors,
pharmaceutical companies, refineries, and warehouses. DEP
also has proposed to list liquefied petroleum gas and its
constituents as flammable extraordinarily hazardous substances.
The amendments do not extend to propane retailers and users.
Approximately 40 additional companies are
expected to become subject to the TCPA rules as a result
of the proposed amendments because they use certain reactive
chemicals or liquefied petroleum gas. Twenty-two companies
currently regulated under TCPA are expected to have to comply
with additional regulatory requirements for using the substances.
These estimates include approximately nine facilities that
likely will be regulated for liquefied petroleum gas, of
which several already are in the TCPA program.