Texas Regulators Consider Tougher Rules for Above-Ground Chemical Storage Tanks

Texas lawmakers introduced legislation late last year to place tougher rules on above-ground chemical and petroleum storage tanks to prevent explosions and spills that occurred the past several years.

The state experienced some horrific incidents in recent years, including a massive fire at Arkema’s chemical storage facility during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, a 2019 petrochemical fire at Intercontinental Terminals Company’s tank farm in Pasadena and a December 2020 oil storage tank fire that led to an explosion at a Corpus Christi refinery.

These incidents coupled with the realization that increasingly powerful storms because of climate change are battering the Texas Gulf Coast, where many of the tanks are located, prompted two state legislators to introduce legislation.

Democratic state Sen. Nathan Johnson sponsored a bill in the state Senate last November and Democratic state Rep. Mary Ann Perez introduced a companion bill in the House.

The bills direct the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to work with stakeholders to create tougher rules on the structural integrity of above-ground tanks at chemical plants and other facilities located in areas prone to flooding, storm surges and hurricanes. In addition, the TCEQ is to focus on accident, fire and explosion safety for storage tanks.

Texas currently has few rules for above-ground tanks, and none of the regulations require construction standards that ensure the tanks can withstand powerful hurricanes or major flooding.

Similar bills did not gain traction in the last state legislative session, but the bills’ sponsors are hopeful that the groundwork laid in the legislature and the oil and gas industry will allow the legislation to prevail.

More information about the TCEQ’s response to these increasing weather-related incidents and industry-suggested guidelines for above-ground tanks can be read HERE.

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