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Capitol Health Call
September 11, 2013

Order Calls for Safer Practices at Chemical Facilities

JAMA. 2013;310(10):1015. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.277682

Federal agencies must review their safety rules for chemical facilities and identify new ways to store and secure ammonium nitrate, said President Obama in an executive order issued August 1. The order follows the April 17 explosion of ammonium nitrate at the West Fertilizer Company facility in West, Texas, in which 15 people died and hundreds were injured.

The president’s action was welcomed by Sen Tom Carper (D, Del), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, who said governments at all levels must work together to minimize the risk of future disasters as seen in West and in Geismar, Louisiana, where the Williams Olefins plant exploded on June 13, killing 2 people and injuring more than 100. “These incidents have also exposed serious regulatory gaps and overlaps that reveal, in some instances, the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing,” Carper said in a release.