McGuireWoods Authors Explore Compliance Takeaways From Beirut Tragedy

September 28, 2020

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.