Tuesday, February 10, 2004

New Jersey Agrees to Voluntary Industry Chem Plant Security Standards

In a move that is upsetting environmentalists, community activists and Senator Jon Corzine (NJ), New Jersey Governor James McGreevey has apparently agreed to an arrangement with the American Chemistry Council, the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association and the Chemistry Council of New Jersey that would require chemical companies to follow a set of security guidelines written by the American Chemistry Council, or be subject to stricter, unspecified state regulations.
Corzine, who has pushed unsuccessfully for national plant-security standards amid the terrorism fears of the past two years, has said McGreevey's policy would set a bad example for the rest of the nation.

"Securing New Jersey's chemical plants is too important to be left to the industry's voluntary efforts," Corzine's spokesman, Darius Goore, said in a statement yesterday. "Senator Corzine will continue to urge (Department of Environmental Protection) Commissioner (Bradley) Campbell to establish the same kind of strong requirements he is working for on the federal level."
Rick Engler of the Work-Environment Council was upset that the agreement was made behind closed doors. “’I'm a little reluctant to comment until I see a copy of it,’ Engler said. ‘But based on past experience, deals between industry and government that have had no public participation are not very good for the public.’

As reported previously in Confined Space, (here and here) Senator Corzine has introduced a bill that would call for strict security standards and “inherently safer production” that would substitute safer materials and processes for more hazardous ones. Corzines’ bill has fallen victim to a multimillion dollar campaign by the American Chemistry Council. The Bush administration is favoring a bill sponsored by Senator Jame Infhofe (R-OK) that that would require chemical companies to simply submit vulnerability or security-improvement plans to Homeland Security, but not require companies to consider using alternatives to current chemicals and practices.”