Due to a court ruling, the Environmental Protection Agency can no longer delay action to prevent chemical disasters and protect first responders.

On August 17, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the EPA must stop delaying the implementation of regulations known as the “Chemical Disaster Rule.” The rules require companies to share more information with emergency planners, publish records of their chemical inventories, and obtain outside of audits of their facilities, among other measures meant to mitigate harm.

“This transparency is something that makes first responders safer, and the communities around those facilities safer,” said Bay Scoggin, state director of TexPIRG. “We don't want another Arkema.”

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the Arkema chemical plant outside of Houston, Texas, was wracked by a series of fires and explosions. Investigators found that Arkema had not meet the industry standard for flood protection, and that first responders were put at unnecessary risk.

The rules were supposed to go into effect on March 14, 2017, but the EPA had suspended them, citing concern over their impact on industry.

Photo Credit: CBS News