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Safety of Communities in Proximity to Chemical Facilities

In April 2013, an ammonium nitrate explosion at a fertilizer warehouse in West, Texas, resulted in significant damage to the buildings and facilities up to half a mile from the facility. In 2009 in Corpus Christi, Texas, at least 4,000 pounds of hydrofluoric acid (HF) likely escaped from a refinery unit into the atmosphere and left the facility.

Given these major incidents and investigations at other facilities, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) wants to conduct a new study to help assess threats to communities in relation to proximity of facilities handling flammable, explosive or toxic chemicals.

All analysis should incorporate a multi-disciplinary approach within the fields of chemistry, chemical engineering, risk communication, urban planning, community relations, toxicology, blast modeling, environmental and safety regulations and policy, land use and zoning laws, and other relevant areas.

The proposed study would focus on the following topic areas:

Facility Proximity

Review and evaluate how the proximity of facilities handling hazardous chemicals can pose a risk to communities across U.S. as a result of fires, explosions and chemical releases. Particular consideration will be given to public consequences of such events from the proximity of facilities to community buildings, residences, schools and health-care facilities, and other non-industrial buildings.

Safe Distance Criteria

Identify approaches that could be used to determine appropriate distances between communities and hazardous facilities, accounting for chemical toxicity, flammability, and explosion potential and blast overpressure. Establish criteria for selecting facilities to be evaluated in this study based on chemical storage and proximity to populated areas. As examples, examine the proximity of ammonium nitrate storage facilities, refineries with hydrogen fluoride alkylation units, and other high hazard facilities to communities.

Regulations Review

Review current regulations, including state and local ordinances and recommended practices related to land use and development in close proximity to existing chemical facilities, as well as the siting of new chemical facilities and determine whether existing requirements and practices are adequate. The review should include current federal and international regulations, and examples of existing state and local regulatory and non-regulatory practices that control the types of buildings and facilities that can be built in proximity to chemical facilities.

Policy Recommendations

Identify the appropriate regulatory bodies and make regulatory policy recommendations or other recommendations as appropriate based on findings from the analysis from the tasks described above.

The CSB is requesting proposals from organizations interested in conducting this study. The contractor would be expected to furnish all necessary personnel, materials, equipment, services, travel, facilities and all other related expenses to conduct the study.

Further details are available via Solicitation Number: RFP-CSB-15-0032. The response deadline is June 19, 2015

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