Chemical Management Can Protect Companies from Expensive Litigation

Chemical management can be used to track the hazardous materials stored in above-ground storage containers.
The EPA is under attack after a West Virginia chemical storage tank spill revealed gaps in federal regulations. How can chemical management help companies prevent similar legal trouble?
Image Source: Flickr CC user PEO ACWA

Uh oh, looks like the EPA is facing legal trouble. Last month, three citizen groups filed a lawsuit claiming the agency violated the Clean Water Act by failing to regulate above-ground chemical storage tanks containing hazardous materials.1 Currently, the only measures in place deal with oil. No other materials are covered.

Even though the EPA recently amended the Clean Water Act, the new measures don’t address the issues raised by the lawsuit. The concerns stem from a chemical storage tank spill that occurred in West Virginia early last year. The incident highlighted that not only are these above-ground chemical storage tanks unregulated, many of them have fallen into disrepair. Not a good thing when many are located near our drinking water supply.

Are Your Chemicals Properly Stored and Protected?

The chemical spill raised many questions about how the U.S. regulates industrial chemicals.2 Considering that lawmakers are still working on reforming our chemical safety laws, many states and localities passed legislation to bridge the gaps. West Virginia, the site of the 2014 chemical storage tank spill, signed into law new requirements that would strengthen the requirements for new storage tanks as well as require inspections for existing ones. In addition, public utilities will need to demonstrate how they plan to respond to chemical spills.3

Save Your Company’s Rep and Future With Chemical Management

Sounds messy, right? Over a year later, and we’re still seeing the aftermath of that West Virginia spill. The company originally responsible for the spill has already closed down, but now the EPA is in the crosshairs. This is a bad situation, and no company wants to experience the same thing. That’s why a chemical management system is crucial to any firm’s success:

  • Inventory Tracking
    Chemical management software can track a company’s entire inventory. The West Virginia incident cemented the importance of knowing what’s stored in your chemical containers. This shouldn’t be a mystery or surprise. With a chemical inventory system, not only do you know what’s in your storage containers, you also know the location.
  • Safety Protocols
    In addition to tracking inventory, a chemical management system can keep you aware of proper safety procedures for each specific chemical housed by your facility. What type of container should they be stored in? How does the chemical need to be handled and is any protective gear necessary? And most important of all, how should the chemical be safely disposed of? Knowing these details is important for protecting the safety of both your employees and the general public.
  • Hazard Communication
    Along with basic safety information, a chemical management system can also provide details for how to handle the worst case scenario such as what we saw in West Virginia. In the case of a chemical spill, that knowledge can be used to aid in clean-up. It can also be used to inform affected people with any next steps they need to take. Should they seek immediate treatment? If not, are there symptoms they should keep an eye out for? Emergency personnel also need this information, both to protect themselves and to ensure they take steps that won’t make the situation worse.

Chemical spills like the one that happened in West Virginia can be costly to companies and leave lasting repercussions. To prevent such a catastrophe from befalling your company, I advise instituting a chemical management system. With the use of this software, companies can track their inventory, keep abreast of current safety protocols, and know what to do in an emergency situation. Interested in learning more? Contact us today to learn more about BIOVIA CISPro.

  1. “Groups target EPA in chemical tank suit,” July 21, 2015, http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150721/GZ01/150729887
  2. “Five big questions about the massive chemical spill in West Virginia,” January 21, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2014/01/21/five-big-questions-about-the-massive-chemical-spill-in-west-virginia/
  3. “A Year After West Virginia Chemical Spill, Some Signs of Safer Water,” January 10, 2015, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/150109-west-virginia-chemical-spill-water-quality-regulations-environment/

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