The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has moved to designate the nation’s petrochemicals industry as ‘essential critical infrastructure’ as part of efforts to fight the rising disruption caused by COVID-19.
As the novel coronavirus continues to infect people throughout the US and the rest of the world, federal and state governments in the US are shutting down certain areas and work sectors to combat its spread.
But some work sectors have been identified as having a responsibility to maintain business as usual.
President Donald Trump issued Coronavirus Guidance for the US, stating: ‘If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security… you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.’
This now includes the petrochemicals industry, which creates and supplies crucial elements for scores of sectors across the US economy, and has been severely disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.
DHS said the essential services list included:
– The safe transportation of chemicals, including those supporting tank cleaning facilities
– The operation and maintenance of facilities (particularly those with high risk chemicals and/or sites that cannot be shut down) whose work cannot be done remotely, including plant contract workers who provide inspections.
The DHS statement comes after the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said it was ‘vital’ for the chemicals industry to continue its work during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The trade group said: ‘As state and local governments make their decisions regarding Covid-19, we fully expect them to rely on this DHS guidance and not place any undue restrictions that would impede chemical production, including the ability of employees to travel to work and the transportation of material to and from chemical facilities.’