TCPA Amendments Proposed
to Prevent Accidents at Companies Using Reactive Chemicals
to Protect Public Health in Nearby Communities
(03/19) Trenton The New Jersey
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has proposed
expanding its Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act (TCPA) program
to provide greater protection for residents living near
more than 60 companies using reactive chemicals that could
cause industrial accidents and explosions. DEP's 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
DEP has proposed to list certain reactive
chemicals as extraordinarily hazardous substances subject
to risk management planning requirements of TCPA. These
chemicals have the potential to explode if mixed with certain
other chemicals, air or water and can result in death or
permanent disability to people beyond a facility's property
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 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.
"History has shown that our residents
need greater protections from the threat of hazardous chemical
reactions in the industrial process," said DEP Commissioner
Bradley M. Campbell. "This is made more important due
to past changes to the standards, which removed the requirement
that all companies use the best technologies available to
prevent future, deadly accidents."
The Napp and Morton International accidents
were the result of reactive chemistry interactions. The
infamous explosion at the Napp facility resulted in five
deaths, 40 residents hospitalized, hundreds of residents
evacuated and the mobilization of 900 emergency responders
from 30 towns.
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
"Improving prevention plans to address
the risks of reactives and to incorporate safer technology
is good for business as well as for public safety,"
stated Commissioner Campbell. "I'm confident that New
Jersey's companies share our interest in protecting our
communities. This first-in-the-nation safety requirement
should inspire similar action by states and businesses all
across the country."
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.
The most significant requirement proposed
to be put back in the TCPA rules include the state of the
art standard for risk reduction that was in place prior
to 1998. The state of the art standard requires that the
risk reduction plans developed by owners and operators reflect
the most updated, cost-effective technologies available
for minimizing the risk of catastrophic accidental releases.
DEP also is proposing a state of the art standard for new
processes when a facility expands or changes operations.
The goal of the TCPA program is to protect
the public from catastrophic accidental releases of extraordinarily
hazardous substances into the environment. TCPA rules require
owners and operators of certain facilities to identify possible
accidental release scenarios and evaluate risk reduction
options to minimize the threat of a catastrophic release.
DEP worked with a group of industry, labor
and environmental representatives to develop amendments
to the current TCPA rules. The workgroup met three times
during the summer of 2002, and again in November 2002 to
discuss the Department's proposed changes.
DEP's proposed amendments to the TCPA rules
were published in the February 18, 2003 New Jersey Register
and posted on DEP 's website at www.state.nj.us/dep.
DEP will hold a public hearing on the proposed amendments
to the TCPA rules at 9:30 a.m. Monday, March 17, 2003 in
DEP's Public Hearing Room. Public comments will be accepted
until April 21, 2003.