transcript OTA Chemical Safety and Climate Change Resilience

Building Chemical Safety into Climate Change Resiliency Planning

Presented by the Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance

Tiffany Skogstrom, OTA Outreach and Policy Analyst:

"Climate change is here. Severe storms are happening more and more often and for safety's sake, companies are going to have to adapt.

Our trainings actually rolled out right on the heels of Hurricane Harvey where we saw chemical plant explosions that happened due to the lack of electricity the lack of being able to keep chemicals refrigerated anymore. People realized that climate change can cause industrial accidents."

Bill Napolitano, Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District:

"Toxics use reduction is going to be one of the key components of overall community preparation to deal with climate change; to help make your community more resilient."

Michele Paul, Director of Environmental Stewardship, New Bedford:

"If we can get rid of a lot of the toxic materials we use then they are not a vulnerability anymore because they are not on site. Any material that is toxic that you'd need to use, really, it makes sense to do a thorough review and, really, determine whether that's necessary. Is it necessary in the amount that you're using it and does it have to be on site until you're actually ready to use it?"

Tiffany Skogstrom, OTA Outreach and Policy Analyst:

"We are the boots on the ground that go into the industries, that look at what's going on there and offer a second set of eyes so that we can make recommendations on how to improve workplace safety, prevent environmental exposures, and prevent industrial accidents. Think back to Thanksgiving 2006 when Danvers had an explosion that leveled an entire neighborhood. These types of explosions can happen when the power goes out due to severe weather."

Rick Ferreira, Taunton Emergency Management Agency (TEMA)

"A lot cof communities have emergency plans but they're basically names and things on paper and they don't necessarily have to do with relationships. You know, understanding who these people are in the community, having their contact information and having a personal relationship with them long before there's an emergency"

Todd Dresser, ESIS Health, Safety and Environment, Toxics Use Reduction Planner

"Many people develop tunnel vision when it comes to emergency planning: this is our plant, this room is our plant. And they focus on what are the hazards in here, what are the hazards to myself, what are the hazards to my coworker. But they fail to consider what are the risks to the responders or our neighbors?”

Tiffany Skogstrom, OTA Outreach and Policy Analyst:

“OTA has a live online interactive map is available both for municipalities and companies to identify their vulnerabilities. So you can go to this map and it has data layers showing where flood zones are, where hurricane zones are, but also things where Tier II facilities are, which are chemical users, where underground storage tanks may be, 21e, which are hazardous sites, and railways because there are a lot of chemicals that move in transit.”

Christina Karas, Environmental Health and Safety Specialist, Cell Signaling Technology:

“The map is an amazing resource. It’s a great way to see what’s around you, so, not only your facility but maybe there’s another hazard, you know, pretty close to you.”

Robert Audlee, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Stainless Steel Coatings, Lancaster:

“The location of our particular plant happens to seems to be in a climactically relatively safe location and there may be somebody else four miles from us that’s a bigger hazard to us than we are to ourselves. Even though we’re tiny, we deal with all the same regulations everybody else does and it’s nice to be able to have access to some of these resources that we otherwise would not have had access to.”

Bill Napolitano, Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District:

“What we try to do is incorporate OTA’s lessons from the workshops and some of the suggested practices when we offer the municipal vulnerability program in urban areas because a lot of times the industries, as much as they’re trying to think ahead with climate change and preparedness, a lot of it usually has to do with transportation routing. But the deeper lessons that we discussed in the OTA workshops, these fit in well with the municipal vulnerability preparedness as a lot of times these industrial areas are the backbones of their communities.”

Tiffany Skogstrom, OTA Outreach and Policy Analyst:

“You can contact OTA for free training, technical assistance, confidential site visits, maps, and other resources to help you prepare for climate change and prevent industrial accidents in your community.