New Measures Adopted to Prevent Chemical
Accidents for Improved Community Safety
New Jersey First to Require Precautions for Reactive
(03/109) Trenton - Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell
today announced expansion of New Jersey's Toxic Catastrophe
Prevention Act (TCPA) program to provide greater protection
for residents living near industrial facilities.
"More protection for our residents
from the threat of hazardous chemical reactions in the industrial
process will make neighborhoods safer and is good business
policy," said DEP Commissioner Campbell. "We will
work with New Jersey businesses on this pioneering initiative
to implement prevention plans for reactive chemicals and
to incorporate safer technology."
DEP formally added reactive chemicals to
the list of extraordinarily hazardous substances that trigger
risk management planning requirements of TCPA. These chemicals
can explode when accidentally exposed to air or water, or
when they are improperly mixed with certain other chemicals.
The force of the explosion can kill or permanently disable
people outside the facility.
New Jersey will require 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.
"Governor McGreevey and Commissioner
Campbell deserve great credit for taking leadership to prevent
the potentially horrific hazards of reactive chemicals from
endangering communities and workers," said Rick Engler,
Director of the New Jersey Work Environment Council, an
alliance of 67 labor, community, and environmental organizations.
"The Department of Environmental Protection's new rule
will help save lives."
The federal Chemical Safety and Hazard
Investigation Board (CSB), 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
"New Jersey is the first state in
the nation to address reactive hazards," said Charles
Jeffress, chief operating officer of the CSB. "The
Chemical Safety Board is very pleased by this step forward
to protect residents and workers from chemical accidents."
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
cost effective. The state of the art standard also applies
for new processes when a company expands or changes operations.
Currently, 103 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 did not adopt proposed changes that
would have listed liquefied petroleum gas and its constituents
as flammable extraordinarily hazardous substances when used
as a feedstock in a process. The department agreed that
the current level of federal and state regulation for liquefied
petroleum gas is sufficient to ensure public safety, as
noted in comments received by the regulated community. The
proposed TCPA amendments would not have applied to retailers
storing propane as a fuel or to people using propane as
Approximately 40 additional companies are
expected to become subject to the TCPA rules as a result
of the new requirements because they use certain reactive
chemicals. Twenty-two companies currently regulated under
TCPA are expected to have to comply with additional regulatory
requirements for using the substances. New prevention measures
were added for 30 reactive hazardous substances and 43 chemical
groups, depending upon a company's volume and use of the