For Immediate Release - January 09, 2017

Baker-Polito Administration Awards $68,234 for Chemical Safety Trainings

Program Aims to Reduce Climate Change-Related Industrial Accidents

BOSTON – January 9, 2017 – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $68,234 in grants for Massachusetts Regional Planning Agencies (RPAs) to incorporate chemical safety into climate change resiliency planning. The grants, awarded by the Office of Technical Assistance (OTA), are funded by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant to help first responders, businesses, and communities prevent climate change weather-related industrial accidents through emergency preparedness.

“Helping first responders, local businesses, and communities implement toxic chemical safety practices into their climate change resiliency planning is an important component of our administration’s efforts to protect public health and the environment,” said Governor Charlie Baker.

“These grants and technical assistance from the Office of Technical Assistance allow Regional Planning Agencies across the Commonwealth to work with local stakeholders to safeguard of the use of hazardous chemicals in their communities,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The funds reiterate our commitment to helping our regional partners protect residents and the environment from accidents caused by increasingly intense storms.”

With these grants, the RPAs will sponsor workshops designed to build awareness and educate city officials, community leaders, Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) and businesses about the toxic chemicals stored, used and transported through their communities.

“Chemical safety projects aim to ensure businesses that use toxic chemicals are resilient and prepared for the effects of climate change, and supports the state’s climate adaptation goals,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “These plans will also create replicable climate change preparedness models that can be used throughout the state.”

The funding also builds upon the Baker-Polito Administration’s strong leadership to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Earlier this year, in a continued effort to mitigate and adapt to climate change, Governor Baker signed an Executive Order which lays out a comprehensive approach to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, and build a more resilient Commonwealth.

RPAs will also receive technical assistance from OTA, like identifying climate change-vulnerable toxics users and implementing adaptation strategies. OTA will also be available to provide Massachusetts businesses with free, non‐regulatory, and confidential assistance with reducing their use of toxic chemicals, energy and water, and compliance with relevant environmental, health and safety regulations.

“RPAs will create tools for incorporating toxics use reduction into community and regional emergency preparedness and climate resiliency planning, thereby reducing the risk of chemical industrial accidents,” said OTA Director Rich Bizzozero. “OTA’s staff of chemists, engineers, and public health experts will provide guidance to implement toxics use reduction in a way that improves public safety in our rapidly changing climate.”

The RPA grantees are below:

Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) – $10,000

Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) – $10,000

Merrimack Valley Planning Commission (MVPC) – $10,000

Montachusett Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) – $9,150

Northern Middlesex Council of Governments (NMCOG) – $10,000

Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) – $9,135

Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) – $9,948

“We must continue to take concrete steps to advance climate change resilience in our communities to better prepare, adapt and reduce the future damages of global warming and extreme weather disasters,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “Ensuring that we are committed to working with our communities to address the future impacts of climate change will help us reach greenhouse gas emissions reductions and meet the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act.”

“This grant will provide first responders and manufacturers in our region with essential training to mitigate toxic pollution and be prepared to address chemical accidents in our communities,” said State Representative Brian S. Dempsey (D-Haverhill), House Chair of the Committee on Ways & Means. “It is important that we have educated and well trained local partners prepared to protect our communities from unforeseen disasters.”

“The effects of climate change are real and will continue to be apparent in the Commonwealth,” said State Representative Paul Schmid III (D-Westport), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “I applaud the Baker-Polito Administration for providing opportunities for our community and business leaders to practice safe chemical use and further utilize climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.”

“Congratulations to CMRPC and MRPC on being awarded these funds,” said Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture. “Natural disasters present their own myriad challenges, both during and afterwards. These funds will ensure that communities are properly prepared so that those challenges are not compounded by a toxic chemical spill.”

Each RPA grantee will hold trainings on incorporating toxics use reduction into climate change resiliency planning to reduce the risk of severe weather-related industrial accidents. The first event will consist of a workshop to educate community leaders and stakeholders on the use, storage and transportation of hazardous chemicals in their communities and the relevant regulatory requirements. The second event will introduce the assessment of vulnerabilities to climate change and the prevention of industrial accidents triggered by climate change by incorporating these issues in community and local emergency planning and at targeted facilities that use toxic chemicals. Additionally, grantees and stakeholders will be able to gather further information by visiting OTA’s website.

“There is a universal emergency preparedness shortcoming regarding the location and nature of entities that use, store, and handle chemicals,” said Trish Settles, Regional Services/Municipal Collaboration Manager at the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Council. “This grant will provide CMRPC with the ability to gather that information in a way that will be useful in our broader disaster planning and will enable us to continue to provide value to our communities and the region in a deeper and very practical manner.”

“The Franklin Regional Council of Governments is grateful to receive funding from the Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance to impact the amount of toxic substances used by industries in the County,” said Tracy Rogers, Franklin Regional Council of Governments Regional Preparedness Program Manager. “This grant will enhance our staff’s ability to interpret data filed by facilities in the County that house hazardous materials on site and allow us to provide better service to the first responders and industries that are part of the Franklin County Regional Emergency Planning Committee.”

“The Merrimack Valley, center of the nation’s proud mill history, continues to be defined by technological innovation and by the most productive and talented workforce in the world. We want to continue to grow our manufacturing sector and doing that in the 21st century requires industry working in partnership with government to adapt to the environmental challenges of climate change. It requires advancing efficient and clean energy supply alternatives and it obligates us to protect the health of our communities by doing all we can to minimize the risk of toxic chemical pollution,” said Merrimack Valley Planning Commission Executive Director Dennis DiZoglio. “This OTA grant opportunity provides the technical capacity resources to help advance that private-public collaboration and build a foundation for our region’s sustainable economic development.”

“Montachusett Regional Planning Commission provides a wide variety of services to its member communities including brownfields, community and economic development, environment, health, housing, transit, and transportation planning,” said Glenn Eaton, Montachusett Regional Planning Commission Executive Director. “By including chemical safety training for local authorities (fire, police, public works, health, planning, economic development), there is no question that the capacity of MRPC to better serve member communities will be enhanced.”

“Many of the industrial sites in our region are located adjacent to rivers or waterways, some are in the urban core while others are located in the suburbs,” said Beverly Woods, Executive Director of Northern Middlesex County of Governments. “Reducing the use of toxics is critical to protecting water supplies throughout the region, and to protecting public health.”

“It is imperative that all sectors of the government (federal, state, regional and local) collaborate with the private sector to work together to build chemical safety into climate resilience planning,” said Tim Brennan, Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. “Global warming in Massachusetts is creating significantly more unusual and unpredictable disastrous weather events that can endanger environmental and public safety if flood waters reach stored chemicals and/or cause transportation problems.”

“Knowing that economic and environmental resilience go hand-in-hand, The Building Chemical Safety Into Climate Resiliency Planning Grant from OTA will afford SRPEDD and its numerous local and regional partners a greater opportunity to promote climate readiness and resilience to the working community in southeastern Massachusetts,” said Jeffrey Walker, Executive Director of the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District.

OTA’s goal in this project is to be a resource for businesses and local government agencies as they implement measures to adapt to climate change-related weather incidents. OTA’s staff has the expertise to help protect both economic enterprise and public health in our changing climate.

# # #

The Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) is a non-regulatory agency within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) that provides free, confidential, on-site technical and compliance assistance to manufacturers, businesses and institutions. In addition to assisting with issues related to the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA), OTA can also assist companies with energy efficiency and water and resource conservation. These services are available free of charge to all Massachusetts businesses.

OTA on Twitter:................ www.twitter.com/Mass_OTA

View our OTA's website:............ www.mass.gov/eea/ota

Visit the OTA's Climate Change & Chemical Safety Website:................ www.mass.gov/eea/ota-climate

For more information, contact Tiffany Skogstrom at tiffany.skogstrom@state.ma.us or (617) 626-1086. To find out more about OTA’s Chemical Safety and Climate Change Resiliency program and services, visit www.mass.gov/eea/ota-climate