EPA issues annual hurricane-season reminder to minimize chemical releases

Facility operators obligated to take preventative action

Posted June 5, 2017

On June 1, the official start of the 2017 hurricane season, EPA issued its annual reminder to facility operators to minimize chemical releases during weather-related process shutdown operations. The agency’s Hazardous Weather Release Prevention and Reporting alert highlights facility operators’ regulatory obligation to operate their facilities safely and report chemical releases in a timely manner.

Because the onset of a hurricane is predictable, facility operators have some time to prepare for its effects on the facility. For instance, the alert recommends that operators take preventative action by safely shutting down processes, or otherwise operate safely under emergency procedures before hurricane force winds and associated storm surge flooding damage industrial processes.

The alert may be even more important this year, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicting an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season (June 1 – November 30). NOAA is forecasting a 45-percent chance of an above-normal storm season, a 35-percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 20-percent chance of a below-normal season. The forecast includes a 70-percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms, of which five to nine could become major hurricanes. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms with three major hurricanes.

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