In 2013, a fertilizer warehouse in West, Texas had a massive fatal fire that left over a dozen people dead and several hundred injured. The blast affected the majority of West, Texas including homes and schools and was comparable to a 2.1 magnitude earthquake. Investigators determined that the fire and subsequent explosion were preventable had the company recognized the potential hazard (ammonium nitrate) and took precautions to prevent tragedies such as this.
Following this disaster, new chemical safety regulations were formed that would strengthen risk management plan requirements for industrial facilities that aim to protect the nearby communities and workers from such accidents. Specifically, the Final Amendments to the Risk Management Program (RMP) Rule would require third-party audits for companies after an accident or near miss accidents to determine safer manufacturing approaches.
In March 2016, EPA decided to delay implementation of this rule for 90 days until June 19th and further extensions are expected. This delay comes at the request of many chemical manufacturers who claim that the rule was unnecessary and more time was needed to address their comments. The chemical manufacturers who oppose this new regulation have also asked Congress to step in and evaluate the rule and there is legislation pending that could overturn this rule and prevent a similar regulation in the future. It is anticipated that the EPA will continue to delay the new risk management regulation until Congress can pass the legislation to overturn it.