The Role of Hazardousness and Regulatory Practice in the Accidental Release of Chemicals at U.S. Industrial Facilities

This article presents the results of an analysis of the accident history data reported under section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act Amendments. These data provide a fairly complete record of the consequences of reportable accidental releases occurring during the time frame 1995-1999 in the U.S. chemical industry and covering 77 toxic and 63 flammable substances subject to the provisions of section 112(r). As such, these results are of fundamental interest to the affected communities, regulators, and insurers, as well as to owners and managers in the chemical industry. The results show the statistical associations between accident frequency and severity and a number of characteristics of reporting facilities, including their size, the hazardousness of the processes and chemicals inventoried, and the regulatory programs (in addition to section 112(r)) to which these facilities are subject. The results are interpreted in light of economic drivers of protective activity and regulatory priorities for monitoring and enforcement.