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The General Contractors Association of New York

January 17, 2020

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

WASHINGTON—The United Steelworkers filed a lawsuit in federal court Jan. 9 to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from weakening its regulations to prevent chemical disasters. The union is asking the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to remove changes the agency made to the Obama-era Chemical Disaster Rule, which the Trump administration froze before it went into effect in 2017. Those changes include limiting how much companies have to tell the public about a facility’s chemical hazards and accident history and deleting the phrase “near-miss” from reports of potential accidents. The Steelworkers said the EPA had “capitulated to industry demands” by eliminating requirements in its Risk Management Program for “common-sense actions to prevent foreseeable catastrophic incidents.” That “will allow a profit-hungry industry to police itself while putting workers, first responders, and the public at risk,” International President Tom Conway said in a statement. The Risk Management Program, established after the 1984 pesticide leak that killed more than 2,000 people in Bhopal, India, requires companies that use specific inflammable and toxic substances to develop hazard-assessment, prevention, and emergency-response measures. The Steelworkers are the largest union of workers in the chemical and oil-refining industries. Read more

January 17, 2020

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