Chemical Accident Prevention
Thousands of ag production facilities nationwide make, use, and store hazardous substances such as anhydrous ammonia. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates these facilities, but every year there are dozens of catastrophic accidents that cause harm to human health and the environment.
Jim Gulliford is an EPA regional administrator. He says when they do inspections, they generally find violations in chemical accident prevention and risk management. They want to turn that around with preventative outreach.
"No harm, no foul types of outreach training with agribusiness. We want to talk to them about first of all why we have this requirement, why it is a national statute that we’re following, what the goals of it are, and what the basic requirements are so that when we come and do an inspection at their facility, our goal is to find compliance rather than problems," says Gulliford.
He says they explain how to train employees to respond if there’s an emergency or accident, and then do a mock inspection. They look at how chemical supplies and storage are managed on the property, and everyone learns from it.
"We’re working with the ag retailer’s associations. They help us find a facility that’s willing to have EPA people on their property – again – hold harmless, so they get a free pass. In the inspection we look at their facility, but then we use their facility to help train others," he says. "So, it’s a good outreach, and a good opportunity for our people to have a positive interaction with this community rather than a regulatory less-than-positive experience for them."