Box 32 Security Legislation Lags

Efforts to develop comprehensive national security regulations for chemical facilities remain on a back burner. The first comprehensive chemical plant security legislation (S 1602) proposed by Senator Jon Corzone was blocked after it had been unanimously approved in the Senate; industry currently supports a bill first proposed by Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate's Environmental and Public Works Committee.

A major issue with Corzine's bill was its requirement that manufacturers substitute "inherently safer" products for chlorine, ammonia, and hydrogen fluoride. Industry argues that the concept of safer product substitution has already been built into key safety and environmental regulations, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administrations Process Safety Management standard. Industry's stance has provoked criticism from environmental groups. "There seems to be an ideological issue here," says Jeremiah Baumann, policy director at the U.S. Public Interest Group. "Industry wants to draw the line between regulating releases from its plants and regulating the types of chemicals it uses, even though such regulations on the state level have resulted in dramatic reductions of waste, and saved the companies money."

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