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Comment PDF Environment, Health, Safety & Security

Hazardous Materials: What to Do When Disaster Strikes

By Wade Scheel, Clean Earth |

Detailed plans for handling hazardous materials should be a central part of any chemical plant’s disaster preparedness plan Over the past year, many chemical facilities managed to overcome extreme circumstances. One instance of an extreme event was the winter storm in Texas in February 2021, where unexpected weather conditions resulted in widespread power outages and mass water supply shortages. Due to power-grid failures, it is estimated that the storm caused blackouts for over 5.2 million homes and businesses, becoming one of the largest blackout events in modern American history [1]. This highlighted the need to be prepared for all aspects of how energy impacts a business’ operations. A lack of a primary energy source, as well as a water supply, could impact a facility’s ability to function safely. Though many consider disasters to encompass only “natural” geologic and meteorological processes — storms, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis and others — future pandemics and similar events should also be considered in preparedness plans (Figure 1). FIGURE 1. A chemical plant’s emergency-response plan should consider not only natural disasters, such as major storms or earthquakes,…
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