Enviroterrorism, Part I

By Guida, Joseph F. | Risk Management, August 2002 | Go to article overview

Enviroterrorism, Part I


Guida, Joseph F., Risk Management


Rules & Regulations

departments

Environmental protection and regulation are on the front line of the so-called war on terrorism. The deliberate release of biological, chemical and radiological agents turns the environment itself into a weapon of mass destruction. Such acts are referred to as enviroterrorism. Measures and technology aimed at preventing or mitigating enviroterrorism could become a standard part of the national pollution control strategy, required by federal regulation.

Environmental Permit and Performance Standards

Air quality, water quality and waste management permits and programs often include prudent management practices and emergency plans. Future permit writers or agency enforcement officers could require permitted facilities and other regulated entities to evaluate risks to workers and the public posed by potential terrorist activities. As part of the permit application process, these organizations may have to design practices or equipment that will serve to prevent or minimize human and environmental impacts caused by the uncontrolled release of, and exposure to, toxic or hazardous substances, contamination or interruption of water supplies and pollution control equipment outages.

Worker Safety and Health

The general duty clause of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act could expose employers to liability for failure to protect workers from foreseeable acts of terrorism (e.g., anthrax contamination), even in the absence of specific regulations. This clause requires employers to furnish a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. Thus, antiterrorist evaluations or audits may prove beneficial, as may participating in industry consensus groups to develop antiterrorism practices for the workplace.

Superfund

Could facility owners or operators be liable for the cleanup of hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (Superfund) even if a terrorist-a third party with whom the owner or operator has no contractual relationship-is responsible? …

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