WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Cal Dooley, President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), issued the following statement in response to Hurricane Harvey.
"Hurricane Harvey is a record breaking storm with unprecedented impacts on the people and property along U.S. Gulf Coast due to extreme flooding. According to the Federal Emergency Management Administration, the storm is responsible for the worst flooding in United States history.
"The chemical industry is deeply integrated into the economies and communities of Texas and Louisiana, particularly in the areas that have been hardest hit by the storm. Our first priority is supporting industry employees and their families and helping to ensure their safety and that of the areas surrounding our plants. The industry employs almost 79,000 Texans and more than 25,000 Louisianans, many of them living in areas that are experiencing devastating flooding. It's likely that thousands of them will have significant damage to, or even the complete loss of their homes, cars, and basic possessions, as have countless families in the region.
"The safety of workers and neighboring communities drives the chemical industry to undertake extensive planning and preparation for major weather events and other safety and security challenges. ACC member companies have comprehensive and well-rehearsed emergency plans that are activated in close coordination with local, state, and national authorities; other businesses; and distribution networks in the path of storms. Preparedness and process safety are also key elements of Responsible Care®, the industry's global environment, health, safety and security program. Compliance with Responsible Care®, including third party audits and certification, is mandatory for all ACC members.
"Chemical facilities are designed and built with major storms in mind. Specific construction elements can include reinforced manufacturing equipment that helps improve the overall structural integrity of a facility in accordance with industrial building standards for hurricanes. Dikes and levees are incorporated to reduce the risk of chemical releases.
"In the event of a major storm, plants may reduce operations, shutdown a facility, evacuate personnel, and physically secure equipment. Special regulations and emissions limits apply to periods of start-up, shut-down, and malfunction. A facility that shuts down may employ flaring of excess gasses that cannot be processed. Flaring is an approved way to safely relieve pressure during a unit shutdown and is considered an industry 'best practice.' These controlled releases are done with the permission of state and federal regulatory authorities.
"Hurricane Harvey has presented extreme and unique challenges for the city of Houston and the surrounding areas in Southeast Texas and Louisiana, warranting an unprecedented response effort, including that by local industry. Chemical manufacturers are in constant contact with both state and federal regulators and emergency personnel to provide updates on the status of their operations. As of August 30, it was estimated that much of the chemical production capacity in the region was either shut down or running at far reduced levels.
"Earlier this week, Arkema Incorporated, an ACC member, informed local first responders, regulators and media of a developing situation at its facility in Crosby, Texas. The company has worked closely with local officials and the surrounding community to provide updates and mitigate risks presented by the flooding of its Crosby site. For additional information about that specific situation, please visit Arkema's website. The federal Environmental Protection Administration has also issued a statement about that incident that can be found by visiting www.epa.gov.
"The top priority in any situation is the safety and well-being of employees and the surrounding residents. An abundance of caution has been and will continue to be taken in these instances to minimize any potential risks.
"ACC and its members constantly evaluate ways to enhance industry safety and performance. The Responsible Care® Process Safety Code requires all ACC members to evaluate the circumstances of each incident and learn from their own and each other's experiences. As the recovery moves ahead in Texas and Louisiana, we will continue to monitor the situation and support efforts on the ground. In the coming weeks we will evaluate all learnings from this unprecedented hurricane and the resulting flooding, to assess if there are additional procedures and process safety efforts that could further inform and enhance the safety performance of our operations in the future.
"The people of Texas and Louisiana have demonstrated their grit and perseverance time and again, and this situation will be no different. ACC and our members from around the country will continue to keep the region in our thoughts and look forward to supporting the recovery and rebuilding efforts in the weeks and months to come."
*Note to Editors: With $129 billion in shipments, Texas is the largest chemical producing state and Louisiana (with $51 billion in shipments) is the 4th largest chemical producing state. Within those states, the areas directly affected by Harvey account for $155 billion in shipments (around one-fifth of total chemical industry shipments in the United States).
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $768 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is among the largest exporters in the nation, accounting for fourteen percent of all U.S. goods exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation's critical infrastructure.
SOURCE American Chemistry Council