DEP COMMISSIONER ESTABLISHES WORKER
INSPECTION PROCESS TO IMPROVE SAFETY
Measure Adopted to Prevent Chemical Accidents and to Protect Surrounding
(05/115) TRENTON -- Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced new measures
to include workers in inspections at industrial sites covered
by New Jersey’s Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act (TCPA)
to provide greater protection for residents living nearby.
“Greater participation by workers to identify and resolve
potential threats involving the use of hazardous chemicals in
the industrial process will make neighborhoods safer and is good
business policy,” said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. “We
will work with New Jersey businesses to ensure this initiative
improves risk prevention plans for each facility.”
Commissioner Campbell signed an Administrative Order that establishes
procedures for employees and their representatives to participate
in DEP inspections, investigations or audits of facilities regulated
by TCPA and the law’s associated rules and regulations.
“New Jersey’s newly adopted worker participation
standard is a first-in-the-nation for the inspection of facilities
that handle extraordinary hazardous substances,” said Commissioner
Campbell. “Workers know their own facilities, and can help
us strengthen protection of communities from the risk of catastrophic
Under the order, DEP seeks to maximize opportunities for employees
of these facilities and operations to participate in inspections
conducted under TCPA. These inspections will help identify environmental
health and public safety hazards and potential sources of toxic
releases that include, but are not limited to, such hazards resulting
from an intentional terrorist attack.
Currently, 101 facilities fall under the requirements of the
TCPA program, which mandates they 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 regularly inspects TCPA companies to review facility risk
management plans and on-site vulnerabilities. DEP also requires
facilities to drill their emergency response plans each year
with employee participation.
“We applaud DEP for making New Jersey the first state
in the nation to take this important step to protect workers,
communities and the environment,” said Rick Engler, director
of the New Jersey Work Environment Council, a coalition of 70
labor unions and environmental organizations. “Workers
are uniquely positioned to point out chemical hazards to DEP
inspectors. Nobody knows the workplace better than the men and
women who work there every day.”
DEP also works with the Domestic Security Preparedness Task
Force to oversee companies’ implementation of best management
practices at their facilities to reduce the risk of a terrorist
attack. These operational challenges are a pressing homeland
security issue, acknowledged by federal agencies such as the
Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and
the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as by industry groups
such as the American Chemistry Council and American Petroleum
In addition, TCPA rules mandate that all facilities regulated
under the program evaluate state of the art technologies every
five years 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.
In 2003, 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.