Chemical Safety: Putting Hard Lessons to the Test
When it comes to restoring the trust of neighbors after an accident at a chemical facility, applying the hard lessons that result from an incident can make all the difference when it comes to improving safety and repairing relationships.
Following a series of major industrial incidents at chemical facilities along the Houston Ship Channel, ACC and its member companies brought together a group safety professionals to examine what happened and what actions industry could take to prevent or respond to future incidents. The group was following through on a commitment embodied in ACC’s Responsible Care® program, which calls on member companies to evaluate the circumstances of each incident and learn from them.
As a result of the group’s work, ACC joined with Harris County officials and the Houston Advance Research Center (HARC) to collaborate on a ground breaking initiative to enhance the county’s air monitoring capabilities. The initiative was made possible by a $1 million grant from the ACC Foundation to purchase more than 60 new air monitors and support the development of new scientific tools for interpreting air quality data during an emergency.
The first of its kind initiative was recently put to the test this week during a major fire at a chemical distribution facility in Channelview, TX. The new air monitoring equipment collected information throughout the incident, boosting officials’ ability to make important safety decisions and keep the public informed.
As Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia pointed out during remarks at a news conference from the scene of the accident, the new air monitoring resources helped improve the county’s ability to respond to the incident. Importantly, the equipment also helped Harris County officials keep tabs on air quality when chemical facilities were forced to shut down rapidly during Winter Storm Uri.
ACC hopes to continue to build on this early success in Texas and we are exploring ways we might be able to develop similar air monitoring initiatives in chemical manufacturing hubs in other parts of the country—putting lessons learned to work!