February 28, 2021

Volume XI, Number 59

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February 26, 2021

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City of Houston Tightens Local Hazardous Materials Regulations

The early morning explosion at the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing site on January 24, 2020 continues to have an impact. The Houston City Council significantly amended the city's hazardous enterprises ordinance this week in an effort to exert more local control over the storage and use of hazardous materials in the city.

The amended ordinance contains three significant changes. First, the ordinance expands the definition of "sensitive use" beyond the childcare facilities, healthcare facilities, and schools in the prior ordinance to now also include other places where people gather such as libraries, churches, public parks, and community centers.

Second, the amended ordinance redefines "enterprise" broadly to include any use or activity both inside and outside of buildings. The expanded definition now covers the outside storage of hazardous materials that exceed the "maximum allowed quantity" for the material as defined under Section 307 of the City's Building Code.

Third, the amended ordinance establishes a new review-committee process to address applications for enterprise permits that cannot be otherwise approved under the revised ordinance. The committee is empowered to approve applications for facilities that establish effective mitigation plans to adequately safeguard the community. Effective plans must minimize risk and demonstrate that there are no reasonable alternatives to the plan proposed.

The amended ordinance complete with the changes in blackline is available here.

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© 2020 Bracewell LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 20
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About this Author

Kevin D. Collins, Bracewell, Government Investigations Attorney, Chemicals Sector lawyer,
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Kevin is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney from the Eastern District of Texas. He is a trial lawyer and has experience trying cases to jury verdict in state and federal court.

He also assists companies responding to government investigations after major industrial accidents and chemical releases in the energy and chemical sectors. Kevin has experience responding to investigations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Pipeline and Hazardous...

512-494-3640
Tim Wilkins, environmental, natural resources, attorney, Bracewell law firm
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Tim Wilkins is the head of Bracewell's firm-wide Environmental and Natural Resources practice group. Tim represents large companies that rely on him for strategic environmental permitting assistance, the defense of environmental enforcement actions, and assistance with the environmental aspects of major transactions. He is a nationally-recognized leader in environmental auditing, having overseen environmental compliance audits involving thousands of locations, handled hundreds of environmental audit disclosures, and pioneered the development and use of U.S. EPA's audit...

512-542-2134
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