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Preparing for the Worst After West: How Lawyers Can Prepare for and Handle High-Profile Industrial Accidents


April 29, 2014


Washington, DC (and via teleconference)

The potential for major industrial accidents presents high human and legal stakes for regulated entities, workers, neighbors, and their lawyers. April 2013’s tragic accident at the West, Texas, fertilizer plant and other recent high-profile incidents heightened awareness of regulatory programs governing incident prevention and response at industrial operations. To some, they signal that more regulation or even new legislation is needed. Navigating the web of risk management and response regulations, while still responding to an incident, presents significant challenges. Just as the situation on the ground may be perilous, so, too, are the legal consequences of improper response, for enforcement and private-party liability. The consequences of an accident can be dramatically affected by company preparedness; immediate response actions and reporting in compliance with regulations; and the care taken with post-accident investigations.

This program explored key preparations legal counsel and environmental practitioners should consider to minimize legal exposure. The panel also addressed how in-house counsel and environmental practitioners can best help their clients to respond to accidents when they do occur. Finally, panelists explored existing regulations for facility risk management and whether recent incidents indicate that flaws require fixing.

Shannon S. Broome, Partner, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP (moderator)
Mark L. Farley, Managing Partner, Texas Offices, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
Richard C. Loeb, General Counsel, U.S. Chemical Safety Board
Sean Moulton, Director, Open Government Policy, Center for Effective Government

Mark Farley powerpoint, Major Accident Response: Managing the First 96 Hours