Before the dust settles and the funerals are complete, the politicians and the media are already clamoring for more regulations in order to prevent another catastrophe like the one in West, TX.  However, like in many occasions, it is not the regulatory framework that is the problem; it is the "retail" exemption and its improper application and defining by OSHA that has burned us in this tragedy.  The business appears to have done their reporting in 2011 and 2012 properly.  We will have to wait for the investigation report to learn if the reporting was not made available to those who needed it most.

I am not advocating for more regulation or that Ammonium Nitrate becomes a PSM/RMP chemical.  I am going to try and make the case that the current regulatory framework, even with the PSM “retail exemption”, is adequate to prevent such disasters.  I am going to try and explain the difference between compliance with the bare minimums (e.g. OSHA’s PSM and EPA’s RMP) and true “process safety”.  Here is how our current regulatory framework COULD HAVE and SHOULD HAVE prevented or certainly lessened the tragedy in West, TX.

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