McGuireWoods partner Brian Jackson and associates Andrew Gann, Mitchell Diles and Miles Indest wrote a
Sept. 16, 2020, article for Texas Lawyer highlighting the recent
catastrophic explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, as an example of what can happen if
companies do not comply with safe storage and handling practices for hazardous
chemical compounds. They also explained why the current regulatory scheme may
put companies in an odd position.
Given the destructive history of ammonium nitrate (AN), the authors wrote,
“the Beirut explosion may be a wake-up call for federal, state and local
regulators. Current regulations, however, provide manufacturers and consumers of
AN with only limited guidance on its storage and handling practices.”
The Department of Homeland Security, OSHA and the EPA are among agencies that
play a role ensuring safety regulations, but existing regulatory gaps mean
compliance may not be enough to prevent accidents or to help companies avoid
liability in the case of accidents.
Because of the potential for confusion, the authors wrote, companies “should
not wait or solely rely upon government regulation” and should take the
proactive steps they outline to protect their employees and financial futures.
Jackson is managing partner of the firm’s Charlottesville, Virginia, office.
He, Gann and Diles are members of the firm’s rapid deployment risk management
team for cases involving catastrophic explosions.