UnThreaded | Threaded | Whole Thread (16) | Ignore Thread Prev Thread | Next Thread
Author: notehound Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 459391  
Subject: West, Texas Explosion & Regulations Date: 4/20/2013 12:20 PM
Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Recommendations: 16
Until the West, Texas fertilizer plant blew up, the US federal regulators didn't even know it existed.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/20/us-usa-explosion-r...

...Firms are responsible for self reporting the volumes of ammonium nitrate and other volatile chemicals they hold to the DHS, which then helps measure plant risks and devise security and safety plans based on them...

Failure to report significant volumes of hazardous chemicals at a site can lead the DHS to fine or shut down fertilizer operations, a person familiar with the agency's monitoring regime said. Though the DHS has the authority to carry out spot inspections at facilities, it has a small budget for that and only a "small number" of field auditors, the person said...

The West Fertilizer facility was subject to other reporting, permitting and safety programs, spread across at least seven state and federal agencies, a patchwork of regulation that critics say makes it difficult to ensure thorough oversight...

But the material is exempt from some mainstays of U.S. chemicals safety programs. For instance, the EPA's Risk Management Program (RMP) requires companies to submit plans describing their handling and storage of certain hazardous chemicals. Ammonium nitrate is not among the chemicals that must be reported...


If a regulatory scheme is so haphazard, complex, layered and varied that no entity takes responsibility for enforcement, does an ignorant (or lazy) business owner know even what he's supposed to do?

If regulations are on the books, but no one knows about them, are they effective?

If regulations exists, but are not enforced, do they really even exist?

Like securities laws, commodity trading rules, gun laws, immigration laws and literally millions of regulations that appear in the US Code of Federal Regulations, chemical regulations may as well not even exist without monitoring, compliance audits, reviews, investigations, enforcement, due diligence and implementation of best practices/procedures.

Everyone knows we need regulations, but no one seems to be interested in disseminating, explaining, disclosing and enforcing the regulations we already have on the books. Many regulations don't even get read by those responsible for them.

This is how complex societies with large governments can destroy themselves by inattention and a false sense of security. Everyone always believes that "someone else (or the government) is taking care of the risks."

This is not unlike the safety situation at the Fukushima plant and at hundreds (thousands) of chemical and other plants & facilities around the world.

:-o
Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Print the post Back To Top
Author: jaagu Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 421042 of 459391
Subject: Re: West, Texas Explosion & Regulations Date: 4/20/2013 12:48 PM
Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Recommendations: 3
If a regulatory scheme is so haphazard, complex, layered and varied that no entity takes responsibility for enforcement, does an ignorant (or lazy) business owner know even what he's supposed to do?

If regulations are on the books, but no one knows about them, are they effective?

If regulations exists, but are not enforced, do they really even exist?

=====================

Very well said, but I would add that there are corporations and government representatives that actively pursue the under funding regulatory enforcement and disregard of regulations. We see it in the news everyday.

jaagu

Print the post Back To Top
Author: tim443 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 421043 of 459391
Subject: Re: West, Texas Explosion & Regulations Date: 4/20/2013 12:50 PM
Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Recommendations: 0
Until the West, Texas fertilizer plant blew up, the US federal regulators didn't even know it existed.

...

...Firms are responsible for self reporting the volumes of ammonium nitrate and other volatile chemicals they hold to the DHS



Mutt,

We are talking about the Republic of Texas here, they don't tell those damn Feds anything!!!!

Oh, the Governor mentioned something about expecting assistance from the Feds in this matter but I didn't quite catch it.


**** absolutely not signed ****

OT - Since we are going through a litany of disaster apparently there are some severe flood warnings going on in the usual places due to the late spring.

Print the post Back To Top
Author: notehound Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 421044 of 459391
Subject: Re: West, Texas Explosion & Regulations Date: 4/20/2013 1:11 PM
Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Recommendations: 1
...apparently there are some severe flood warnings going on in the usual places due to the late spring.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/19/midwest-flooding_n_...

Somebody needs to pass regulations on how much water a river is allowed to carry - and then enforce them!

Or, alternatively, maybe we should have regulations that require people to stay out of flood zones - and for goodness' sake, not to build in such areas.

In a world where regulations allow us to build nuclear reactors in active earthquake zones and chemical plants next door to apartment buildings, somehow I don't think flood regulations would make much difference.

We are educated fools hanging by a thin thread in so many respects.

Such is man.

Print the post Back To Top
Author: tim443 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 421049 of 459391
Subject: Re: West, Texas Explosion & Regulations Date: 4/20/2013 2:14 PM
Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Recommendations: 3
Somebody needs to pass regulations on how much water a river is allowed to carry - and then enforce them!


Hmmm I was thinking perhaps y'all could get some really big jacks and jack up the northern part of the country to tilt is so all that water could run down to Texas instead of into Canada where we really don't need it quite as much? ...

....
....

NO?



https://www.google.ca/search?sourceid=navclient&hl=en-GB...

Print the post Back To Top
Author: Goofyhoofy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 421073 of 459391
Subject: Re: West, Texas Explosion & Regulations Date: 4/20/2013 7:29 PM
Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Recommendations: 60
If a regulatory scheme is so haphazard, complex, layered and varied that no entity takes responsibility for enforcement, does an ignorant (or lazy) business owner know even what he's supposed to do?

1. What makes you think the owner of this business didn't know? The business has had inspections before (not lately, but still...)

2. It is the responsibility of any business to know the regulations under which it operates. A restaurant owner who kills people because of salmonella caused by his own bad practices will probably not get much sympathy from the court with the "I didn't know you couldn't store meat in a box on the back porch" defense. Is there anyone alive - anyone in the FERTILIZER business who doesn't know that the stuff can be explosive? And if you're sitting on a permit which allows you to store hundreds of pounds of the stuff, and you're actually storing thousands of tons, perhaps you shouldn't be in this business?

3. And it's even worse when you (and I do mean "you") somehow make the fault of regulators, who are severely and gigantically underfunded to do their job. That is not the regulators' fault, it is the taxpayers' fault, abetted by pandering politicians who decry regulations at every turn. Right up until there's a catastrophe, after which they - like you - blame it on the regulations themselves.

Somewhere there is a correct balance of these things. Sometimes it's a bit too much, or technology obviates some previously beneficial rules. Sometimes it's not enough. Sometimes it's Goldilocks: In food we seem to do pretty well, for instance, with inspectors at most major food processing plants, and occasional restaurant and food store inspections to make sure things go well there, too. (Which does not imply perfection, I'm sure there are still cases of food poisoning.) And yet there are plenty of food processors, tens of thousands of restaurants, prices are moderate, things seem to work.

But when it comes to "industrial regulation", well, you can be sure there is one faction yelping and screaming about how awful it is, how it ties business owners in knots, and how things would be so much sweller if we just got rid of all those pesky gubmit inspectors and rules. After all, look what it did for the financial sector!
 


Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Print the post Back To Top
Author: notehound Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 421092 of 459391
Subject: Re: West, Texas Explosion & Regulations Date: 4/21/2013 6:23 AM
Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Recommendations: 14
3. And it's even worse when you (and I do mean "you") somehow make the fault of regulators, who are severely and gigantically underfunded to do their job.

Goofy,

I don't know why it's necessary to be personal, but you're ascribing a sentiment to me that is not earned and is simply not accurate.

Despite your assuming I am anti-regulation, please be advised - for all future purposes - that I am PRO-Rational Regulation. I also am PRO-Harmonized Regulation. And when it comes to bankers, I am PRO-breakup (and PRO-incarceration).

By Rational Regulation, I mean regulation that is designed and implemented in such a way as to actually achieve its stated objectives.

By Harmonized Regulation, I mean regulation that is designed and implemented in such a way as to integrate with the co-existing "vertical" regulation in the same industry (city, county, state, federal).

There are some state and federal regulatory schemes that, when read together, actually contradict each other. There are also some regulatory schemes that are so complex that the most compliance-obsessed business could not hope to truly comply. There are finally many regulations that are simply not disseminated to their target industries because the regulatory process did not include an assessment of the universe of regulated entities. All of these are problems that undermine the "Stated Purpose" of a regulatory scheme and discourage compliance.

There is always an enabling act for every regulation and there is a mission statement for every enforcement agency. Unfortunately, both of these are often forgotten by those charged with enforcement.

Finally, as for the funding of enforcement, it is not that difficult to include inspection/enforcement clauses when a regulation is passed - especially when it comes to inspections and examinations having to do with public safety issues. If it is a public safety matter, then charge those regulated and inspected for the cost of enforcement.

In some industries, it is not unusual for regulators to schedule inspections and audits of their covered regulated entities, to notify the regulated business that they will be charged fees to cover the cost of the inspection, and to send the bill for the enforcement directly to the business. Businesses find out that inspections and audits are cheaper if they have good compliance programs in place that make the inspector's job easy.

The executive branches charged with enforcement of existing laws have a lot more discretion than many folks realize. If an accountant comes to your business to audit your books, you pay the cost of the audit. Likewise, if an inspector must make a site visit to examine your shop floor, you should pay the cost of the inspection (inspection fees).

When an officer (Secretary of "X") is charged with enforcement, there is an implicit authorization for that Secretary to impose the necessary fees on regulated entities to pay for enforcement. It's part of the "mission" and "enabling" legislation that sets up a regulatory agency. ESPECIALLY when you're dealing with public safety issues.

There are as many ignorant and lazy business owners as there are nefarious ones (particularly among small and independent operators). There are ways to encourage compliance - not least of which are notices to the regulated companies of what is expected of them.

And please, Goofy, if you must be personal, please be advised that I believe in and support regulation - rational, integrated, harmonized and uniformly enforced.

(With regard to TBTF banks, in particular, I believe in INCARCERATION, too.)

;-)

Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Print the post Back To Top
Author: tim443 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 421098 of 459391
Subject: Re: West, Texas Explosion & Regulations Date: 4/21/2013 8:45 AM
Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Recommendations: 2
I'm always a bit leery of posting stuff from this site due to its rather over open nature (anyone can post anything they want) but I don't think they would be able to fudge some of this?


Any <I know my limits. I don’t pay any attention to them, but I know them> mouse

http://www.care2.com/causes/history-of-safety-violations-at-...

History of Safety Violations at Texas Fertilizer Plant

by s.e. smith April 20, 2013 3:30 pm



http://www.care2.com/causes/safety-inspections-save-lives-do...

Safety Inspections Save Lives, Don’t Hurt Business

by Care2 Causes Editors
May 21, 2012
11:00 am


Print the post Back To Top
Author: BenHurJudah Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 421101 of 459391
Subject: Re: West, Texas Explosion & Regulations Date: 4/21/2013 10:05 AM
Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Recommendations: 1
This is what you get with a Barney Fife administration.

Print the post Back To Top
Author: jwiest Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 421109 of 459391
Subject: Re: West, Texas Explosion & Regulations Date: 4/21/2013 12:18 PM
Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Recommendations: 14
If a regulatory scheme is so haphazard, complex, layered and varied that no entity takes responsibility for enforcement, does an ignorant (or lazy) business owner know even what he's supposed to do?

Assuming for the moment that complexity is the issue here...

This complexity is simply an artifact of the capitalist system, a result of the interplay between business owners who are always striving to reduce costs ("How little can I get away with?") and the needs of the general public ("Here's what you have to do to keep us safe.")

You can bet that business owners are going to explore and exploit every option, which means every little piece of equipment right down to the washers is going to be challenged and alternatives explored. Regulators are always going to be playing catch-up investigating alternatives or new options that are always coming online.

Think about that for a bit, and then ask yourself again why regulations are so complex. To shift my above assertion a bit, it's the unintended consequence of a system that prefers profit to integrity.

I'd make a good bet that a lot of regulatory complexity could be dispensed with if corporate officers were held personally accountable for such disasters.

Print the post Back To Top
Author: tim443 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 421115 of 459391
Subject: Re: West, Texas Explosion & Regulations Date: 4/21/2013 1:35 PM
Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Recommendations: 2
I'd make a good bet that a lot of regulatory complexity could be dispensed with if corporate officers were held personally accountable for such disasters.


Another popular method is to publish the objectives and broad guidelines then leave them guessing as to the details with of course the regulators as the final arbiter of what is or isn't right. }};-D

This leaves it up to the business to avoid becoming a target by meeting those guidelines and asking "before" he stretches the rules.

Instead of thousands of pages including the thickness and material in the fire wall just write "A firewall must be in place that will delay ..." or perhaps something like "Best industry practice must be used...".


**** not signed ****

Print the post Back To Top
Author: jaagu Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 421145 of 459391
Subject: Re: West, Texas Explosion & Regulations Date: 4/21/2013 8:58 PM
Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Recommendations: 1
<This is what you get with a Barney Fife administration.>

You are right about Rick Perry and his administration.

Print the post Back To Top
Author: jaagu Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 421146 of 459391
Subject: Re: West, Texas Explosion & Regulations Date: 4/21/2013 9:02 PM
Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Recommendations: 2
<I'd make a good bet that a lot of regulatory complexity could be dispensed with if corporate officers were held personally accountable for such disasters.>

Agree - both civil and criminal penalties.

Print the post Back To Top
Author: Goofyhoofy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 421216 of 459391
Subject: Re: West, Texas Explosion & Regulations Date: 4/22/2013 7:40 PM
Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Recommendations: 43
Despite your assuming I am anti-regulation, please be advised - for all future purposes - that I am PRO-Rational Regulation.

And yet your first reaction to this is 1) the regulations are too complex, and who in the fertilizer business could be expected to know that ammonium nitrate could be explosive, and 2) the regulators didn't do their job, nevermind that for years we have "starved gubmit" resulting in exactly the proposition that regulations can't do their job. And 3, there might be "conflicting regulations", making it hard for the owner to comply.

My assumptions come from some biases too: for instance, I know that Texans generally despise "regulations" of any sort. Speed limits. Zoning rules. Any of the restrictions people in other climes agree to. So my first reaction is, at what point are you supposed to "self-report" for the storage of fertilizer? Answer: 400 pounds. How much did this facility have? Answer: 540,000 pounds. Not a close call.

So my first reaction is that the owner is an irresponsible twit, and ought to be prosecuted for the manslaughter of 14 people through negligence at the very least. Then I would move on to "whether the regulations are clear - and enforced, frankly, an impossible task given the state of Texas.

In some industries, it is not unusual for regulators to schedule inspections and audits of their covered regulated entities, to notify the regulated business that they will be charged fees to cover the cost of the inspection, and to send the bill for the enforcement directly to the business. Businesses find out that inspections and audits are cheaper if they have good compliance programs in place that make the inspector's job easy.
The executive branches charged with enforcement of existing laws have a lot more discretion than many folks realize. If an accountant comes to your business to audit your books, you pay the cost of the audit. Likewise, if an inspector must make a site visit to examine your shop floor, you should pay the cost of the inspection (inspection fees).
When an officer (Secretary of "X") is charged with enforcement, there is an implicit authorization for that Secretary to impose the necessary fees on regulated entities to pay for enforcement. It's part of the "mission" and "enabling" legislation that sets up a regulatory agency. ESPECIALLY when you're dealing with public safety issues.


You are preaching to the choir. Unfortunately, we are in a political climate where any attempt at sanity is demagogued as an attack on business. It's near tragic, and in this case, it was.

And please, Goofy, if you must be personal, please be advised that I believe in and support regulation - rational, integrated, harmonized and uniformly enforced.

If you say so. But insisting it be perfect or it can't be implemented seems less like "support" and more like "impediment", at least to me.

Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Print the post Back To Top
Author: notehound Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 421230 of 459391
Subject: Re: West, Texas Explosion & Regulations Date: 4/22/2013 11:53 PM
Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Recommendations: 2
So my first reaction is that the owner is an irresponsible twit, and ought to be prosecuted for the manslaughter of 14 people through negligence at the very least.

I agree. His violation of numerous existing statutes and regulations will certainly help the plaintiffs' lawyers make their "gross negligence" case.

But insisting it be perfect or it can't be implemented seems less like "support" and more like "impediment"

I'm not so concerned that regulatory schemes be perfect as that they be as rational and feasible (practical) as possible.

In a perfect world, firms wouldn't be able to obtain and renew business licenses or do business without having to annually register in a nationally-managed database and entering data regarding the lines of business and the type and quantity of materials or inventory they handled last year or plan to handle in the upcoming year. They could then receive an "annual registration number" and printable certificate that proves they updated the data. A valid current registration number/certificate could be a condition of maintaining local business licenses and/or state qualifications to do business.

The Commerce Clause and the Taxing Clauses alone are sufficient to empower the Feds to collect the data for "health and safety" purposes.

The various state and federal agencies could then electronically comb the database to find out who their "client/regulated entities" are supposed to be - then communicate electronically to advise their client entities what are the relevant sections of the Code of Federal Regulations (and/or state codes of regulations) to which they are held accountable, etc.

I lament the fact that we are overlooking the possibilities for streamlining and automating enforcement, due diligence and best practices for most of the industries already subject to existing regulations.

If we can pursue such automation in healthcare, immigration and homeland security, we ought to be able to do the same with chemical and other industries, as well. Even states like Texas could be encouraged to get behind the regulatory "harmonization" effort as a condition of receiving federal funds.

It's a shame we don't live in a perfect world - especially when it comes to business regulation.

Anyway, I really do believe I'm on your side.

Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Print the post Back To Top
Author: tim443 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 421242 of 459391
Subject: Re: West, Texas Explosion & Regulations Date: 4/23/2013 8:45 AM
Post New | Post Reply | Reply Later | Create Poll . Report this Post | Recommend it!
Recommendations: 0
My second thought after I saw a short documentary that said their are "hundreds" of these plants in small towns (left over from when the stuff was mostly used as fertilizer rather than industrial explosives) was that terrorist groups must be salivating at this information!!!


Any <twern't me I want my lawyer> mouse

Print the post Back To Top
UnThreaded | Threaded | Whole Thread (16) | Ignore Thread Prev Thread | Next Thread
Advertisement