Waxman Explosives Notification Amendment Adopted


The first legislative action following the West Fertilizer facility explosion in TX was offered by Rep. Henry Waxman, ranking Democratic member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  The amendment, which was accepted, was offered to an unrelated bill HR 2279, dealing with financial responsibility under the “Superfund” Act.  The amendment requires facilities that have a threshold-screening quantity of explosive or flammable “chemicals of interest” to report them to their State Emergency Response Commission (SERC).  Since facilities with explosives is quantities of 10,000 lbs. or more are currently required to provide notice to SERCs under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, the effect of the amendment is to lower the threshold reporting quantities to the CFATS thresholds, generally 400 lbs.  IME’s 1996 settlement agreement with EPA, which resulted in exempting Division 1.1 explosives from the agency's Risk Management Program, requires facilities with any quantity of Division 1.1 explosives to provide notice to Local Emergency Planning Committees and local first responders, but not to SERCs.  Had this requirement been in place, it is unlikely that it would have changed the outcome of the West, TX tragedy.  The facility did not file a CFATS top-screen.  There is no evidence that the facility would have provided notification under this requirement either.