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Former chemistry chair to retire after 50 years in academia – GW Hatchet

Michael King always found joy in teaching others about math and science from a young age.

He has tutored many of his fellow students since elementary school and knew his future belonged with the study of chemistry and in pedagogy when he headed to college at the Illinois Institute of Technology. After receiving his doctorate from Harvard University, he started as an associate professor in the discipline at New York University in 1970 before he began at GW in 1973 2020 marks his 50th and final year of working in academia.

I knew at a very early age that teaching was something that was natural and comfortable for me, and I knew I wanted to pursue it, King said.

After serving as the chair of the chemistry department for more than 20 years, from 1996 to 2019, King will retire from teaching at the end of this academic year to focus on his own research. After retirement, King plans to travel with his wife, conduct more of his own research on organic chemistry in GWs laboratories and work on behalf of the department to recruit graduate students.

It was just an amazing experience, and I am really humbled to have been able to represent this department in a period of substantial growth, King said. For over the years, I have had amazing colleagues and I am so proud to be able to represent them in the forms of the University.

King said he has been heavily involved with the organic chemistry program at the University throughout his career, teaching General Chemistry I and II and managing laboratory operations for the program.

Chemistry was an area of science that came naturally to me from high school to now, King said. I always enjoyed it I liked the manipulations, I enjoyed watching the chemistry unfold in the laboratory so all of that sort of played out from my bachelors degree to my doctorate.

He said he enjoyed the size of GWs student body during the first couple decades of his career smaller than the student body in recent years because the smaller class sizes allowed him to get to know his students and talk with them on a little bit more on a personal level.

King said he felt his previous experiences in academia made him qualified to serve as chair of the department after his predecessor David Ramaker resigned. He said he put his name up for consideration to serve in the position, and his colleagues elected him to serve as the departments leader.

I was fortunate for my colleagues to have the confidence to select me to do that, King said. So one of the things I was particularly interested in doing was to improve the communication and collaboration of the department that would be of value to my colleagues.

While serving as chair, he worked to increase opportunities for faculty in the department to work together and confer on projects, King said.

Kings colleagues said he consistently sought to provide support to students, faculty and the University throughout his tenure.

Former Provost Forrest Maltzman said he worked with King on several different initiatives and projects, including the design process for the Science and Engineering Hall and the creation of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Deans Council.

He said King played a leading role working with the provosts office and the Department of Operations to develop SEHs design, adding that King deserves a large portion of the credit for the buildings completion, which Maltzman characterized as inevitably the most complex building in the University.

Maltzman said King has served as a mentor to academic leaders across the University and has demonstrated the value of collaboration and collegiality.

While building a very successful and research-oriented chemistry department is an important contribution that Michael made, his impact is much broader and his legacy will be felt for a very long time across the University because of the lessons he informally taught his colleagues about being an academic leader and the example he set, Maltzman said in an email.

Christopher Cahill, the current chair of the chemistry department, said King played an integral role in growing the department to its fullest potential by doubling the number of faculty in the department.

He has been tirelessly flying the chemistry flag the entire time he has been here and, as a consequence, we have been able to grow and have our aspirations for research and education evolve accordingly, Cahill said.

Cahill said one of his fondest memories of King was watching him hold office hours in a hallway in SEH using the buildings whiteboard walls. He said a crowd always showed up to talk to King, even on a Friday afternoon.

He was sort of beloved because he has taught organic chemistry this whole time and organic chemistry has, in many respects, an undeserved reputation of being an incredibly difficult and sometimes weed-out course, Cahill said. But Michael King has never taught this as a weed-out course and has always been committed to his students success.

LaKeisha McClary, an assistant professor of chemistry, said she has seen King work tirelessly to support faculty members individual growth as well as the departments collective growth throughout her seven years working with him.

I appreciate a lot about Dr. King, but perhaps what resonates most with me is that he always considered different perspectives within the department and sought to do what was best for us our graduate students and chemistry majors and minors, our staff and our faculty, she said in an email.

This article appeared in the January 13, 2020 issue of the Hatchet.

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Former chemistry chair to retire after 50 years in academia - GW Hatchet

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Has the chemistry Nobel prize really become the biology prize? – Chemistry World

Not another chemistry Nobel going to biologists! How many times have you heard that complaint? But is there really anything in it?

Its sometimes said that the number of chemistry prizes awarded to work rooted in the life sciences at least nine of the prizes since 2000 simply shows how broad chemistry is: at the molecular scale, biology is chemistry. But does that argument stack up? A historian of chemistry and a mathematical chemist argue in a new paper that, not only have the chemistry Nobels indeed become more biological in recent decades, but also the prizes of that nature tend to reward work outside of the chemical mainstream, being much more closely tied to research in the life sciences itself. In effect, they say, the chemistry Nobels are being shared out between genuinely different disciplines.

The two researchers, Jeffrey Seeman of the University of Richmond in the US and Guillermo Restrepo of the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, say that the chemistry Nobel has now mutated into what is effectively the Nobel prize in chemistry or life sciences. They call for this to be openly acknowledged, rather than disguised with a pretense that its all chemistry. Whats at stake here is not just a matter of justice about who gets the most prestigious of all scientific awards, but the de facto boundaries of chemistry as a discipline.

Seeman and Restrepo show that the proportion of chemistry Nobels awarded for achievements in the life sciences has grown fairly steadily from around one per decade in the early 20th century to four to five per decade since the 1980s.1 They quote geneticist Jan Lindsten and cell biologist Nils Ringertz, both of whom served on the the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine in the 1980s, who wrote that many chemistry laureates have made contributions which might equally well have been awarded a prize in physiology or medicine.

Chemistry Nobel laureate Roald Hoffmann of Cornell University in the US, has previously viewed this trend as a call to our profession to embrace the far and influential reach of chemistry. But does it really reflect what chemistry is up to today?

No one can doubt that biochemistry has been a part of chemistry since its earliest days: Antoine Lavoisier studied respiration and fermentation, Justus von Liebig studied metabolism, and fermentation was central to the chemical understanding of enzyme catalysis. But might the disciplines have now gone their separate ways, with distinct communities, journals and spheres of influence? To answer that question, Seeman and Restrepo analysed the papers in two journals throughout 2007, chosen to be representative of mainstream chemistry and biochemistry: Angewandte Chemie International Edition and the American Chemical Societys Biochemistry. They looked at the citations made in papers in the two journals to those in other journals, and vice versa, to get a picture of the web of intellectual relationships.

We found that the chemistry journal has a flow of knowledge mainly with other chemistry journals and very little with life sciences journals, says Restrepo. The same for the biochemistry journal: it was by far more related to life science journals than to chemistry ones.

In other words, says Restrepo, there is a core community of chemistry, that we detected using bibliometric methods, which is not that related to its sibling biochemistry. The kinds of biologically oriented papers that garner chemistry Nobels arent really a part of the chemistry literature at all, he says the two fields belong to intellectual territories that are quite distant from each other. This, he and Seeman say, is the organic result of how scientific communities form and maintain themselves and presumably reflects an unspoken perception that the questions and goals of the communities are different.

The researchers used similar bibliometric analysis to look at the influence of chemistry Nobel laureates, and found that most awards are quite polarised, either being cited almost exclusively in the physical (typically chemical) or the life sciences.

Disciplinary divisions are built into the way the Nobel awards operate. They are awarded by the Nobel Foundation under the auspices of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The Academy elects members each year who are assigned to one of 10 categories, such as physics, chemistry and the biosciences, and selects the Nobel committees from these members. It stands to reason, then, Restrepo says, that if the Academy elects more life scientists than chemists, and if the Nobel Committee for Chemistry becomes weighted more heavily in life scientists, then it is likely that more of the Nobel prizes in chemistry will be in the life sciences.

Seeman and Restrepo studied the disciplinary composition of the chemistry Nobel committees, and found a clear linear correlation between the proportion of awards in the life sciences per decade and the proportion of committee members from those backgrounds: both figures have increased steadily since the prizes began. In the last 70 years, the proportion of chemistry committee members from the life and biochemical sciences has been 4060%.

So what, if anything, is to be done? We are not suggesting that chemists should fight their own corner, but that they, and awarding institutions, should be aware of the territory of chemistry, its shape and reaches, says Restrepo.

Is the current structure of the Nobel prizes optimal for the future? the pair asks. The evidence is: certainly not. In a way, the Nobel Foundation and the Nobels prize-awarding bodies have produced a patchwork of change over the past several decades, a force-fit into the schema of Alfred Nobel. That strategy will not suffice forever.

With this in mind, they suggest several possible changes to the ways the Nobel awards operate. For example, it could include leading international representatives of the most active and most influential fields of chemistry in the Nobel Committee for Chemistry. The limit of three recipients each year could be relaxed to broaden the pool of laureates and the Foundation could publicly document the criteria and disciplinary boundaries for each of its prizes and for membership on the Nobel Committees.

Perhaps one of the suggestions they could easily implement is the use of bibliometric tools to keep track of the evolution of the disciplines and also as a tool to assist the selection of members of the committee, says Restrepo.

Robert Lefkowitz of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who won the 2012 chemistry Nobel with Brian Kobilka for work on G-protein coupled receptors, doesnt buy it. I think it is an unproductive argument based on definitions, he says.

He points out that most standard definitions of chemistry include biochemistry as a branch. Is there anything in Alfred Nobels will that says the different branches need to be equally rewarded? he asks. It simply says instead that the prize should go to those whose discoveries have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. If the Nobel committee decides that the greatest benefit has come disproportionately from biochemistry, and Lefkowtiz agrees that this has been so in recent years, then so be it. But I understand that these other chemists feel disenfranchised, he says. I would too.

In any event, he says, the choice is up to the Swedes, whereas Seeman and Restrepo seem to be saying that the prize is owned by all of us.

And while a common complaint is that the life sciences already have their own prize, Lefkowitz points out that it is actually a prize for physiology and medicine but when was the last time a physiologist or physician actually won it for work in those fields? Almost never, Lefkowitz says. It more often goes to biochemists than does the chemistry prize. Similar arguments rage in other disciplines too: some say particle physics is inordinately represented in the physics prize, for instance, while in the early 20th century the turf wars were more between physics and chemistry as awards went to discoveries in radioactivity and atomic physics.

Seeman and Restrepo interacted extensively with members of the Nobel committee as they prepared their paper, in particular to clarify the procedures of the Nobel Foundation. They stress that the committee members were extremely responsive, cooperative and helpful. Protein chemist Gunnar von Heijne of Stockholm University, Sweden, current secretary of the chemistry Nobel committee, finds food for thought in the paper but doesnt think that the findings demand any more changes or soul-searching than are already happening.

It is certainly not true that the Nobel prize in chemistry has developed into a Nobel prize in life sciences, he says, speaking in a personal capacity. He thinks that the alleged intellectual separation of chemistry and biochemistry rests on circular reasoning: that biochemists tend to publish in pure biochemistry journals seems unsurprising, but doesnt in itself make biochemistry distinct from the rest of chemistry.

Von Heijne says that it is hard to implement changes to the Nobel Foundations procedures anyway. It is the statutes of the Nobel Foundation and, ultimately, the will of Alfred Nobel, that provide the basic framework for the Nobel prizes, [including] the prize areas. This basic framework cannot and probably should not be easily changed. He adds that the Nobel prizes rest on a finely tuned and slowly evolving system of rules and procedures, and major changes can easily create more problems than they solve.

On the suggestion that the Nobel committee should include the most active and influential scientists in each field, for example, he says that over the years that Ive served on the Nobel Committee, Ive become convinced that it is much easier for a rather close-knit group of scientists living in a far-off country to take the necessary detached view of the world of science that the responsibility of proposing Nobel prizes carries with it and to put in the months of work required every year than it would be for a committee of busy international high-flyers.

And increasing the number of laureates for a given prize would simply widen the arguments about where the cutoff lies, he says. In my own experience, the number of deserving individuals grows rapidly with the number of laureates included in a prize. There would be many more candidates of more or less equal merit to consider for a fourth slot than for the first, second or third slot.

While Restrepo says that one of the aims of the paper is to bring into the open some of the opacity of the Nobel prize process, von Heijne feels that too explicit and formulaic a selection process could create a straitjacket. If, for example, some formal and publicly stated definition of what counts as chemistry were to be drawn up, it would need to be constantly revised with every passing year indeed, it would be outdated even before it is decided. Von Heijne says that his own preference is to be inclusive and recognise the broad reach of chemistry in contemporary science and technology. Lefkowitz thinks that the chemistry Nobel actually has had some of the most creative and original committees in recent decades, for example making awards for work in microscopy or materials science. They surprise people year after year, he says.

So perhaps some fuzziness and secrecy is best after all. If the Nobel prizes were selected by algorithm, what would we have to argue about every October?

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What we need to know to make our labs safer – Chemistry World

Academic chemistry is, by its very nature, a risky activity. When we create new molecules and ask new questions, there is always the possibility that things could go wrong in unexpected and dangerous ways. This inherent risk is nothing new. In the 1840s, when August Kekul began his studies in Justus von Liebigs laboratory, he was supposedly told: If you want to become a chemist you have to ruin your health. Who does not ruin his health by his studies, nowadays will not get anywhere in chemistry.

In the years since then, our methods, facilities and lab equipment have evolved. However, attitudes towards safety sometimes seem to be stuck in the 19th century. Despite the regular occurrence of major incidents resulting in significant damage to people and property, little is known about why these happen in academic labs. We dont even have an answer to the basic question of how big a problem they are.

Over the last decade, lab safety incidents have led to at least one death per year worldwide. However, in many instances, regulatory gaps confound an accurate determination of how many injuries occur. For example, in Ontario, Canada, unpaid students working in a professors lab are not covered by the provincial board regulating workplace safety. If an incident results in injuries to a full-time staff member, a report would be filed; however, should the victim be an undergraduate volunteer or a PhD student on a scholarship, the province would not necessarily be notified.

In Canada alone, there are 13 provincial regulatory boards, each having their own standards for what type of incident is reportable. No entity has a comprehensive answer to how many incidents occur each year across the country. The few studies that have looked at incident frequency in North America paint a troubling picture: 1530% of laboratory personnel have witnessed or been involved in an incident severe enough to warrant attention from a medical professional. In any other field of study or area of work, an injury rate this high would be shocking and grounds for further inquiry. The lack of systematic outrage indicates that in chemistry, it goes with the territory.

Do certain characteristics of the individual, the lab or the institution make incidents more likely to happen? Again, we have no idea. We cannot find any studies that looked at how the skills, knowledge, experience or attitudes of research personnel are associated with the occurrence of safety problems in the lab. Similarly, there have been no systematic studies investigating the occurrence and recurrence of incidents within specific departments or universities, nor has there been research looking at the role of situational factors, such as time of day, in causing incidents. Often, when a significant incident has occurred, case studies are written providing these details. Although these are interesting and there is much to learn from them, anecdotes are a poor basis for establishing policy.

Practising academic chemists often dont have the time or methodological background to ask the types of questions that will reveal how hazards arise in the lab. However, there also seems to be ignorance that safety is even an issue. Lab personnel participating in studies of safety culture report that safety is a high priority in their labs and that these are safe places to work. However, their behaviours tell another story. Often these same studies show that participants dont conduct risk assessments before performing laboratory work, dont use existing safety information to develop experimental procedures, and dont consistently wear protective equipment. Many report that they have not received safety training (or have not received it in a timely fashion) and would not know how to handle an emergency in the lab such as a fire or flood. Safety is generally taken more seriously in industrial workplaces, but data shows that even there, employee compliance with safety policies remains far less than ideal.

Its a contradiction scientists say they care about safety but behave in profoundly unsafe ways. Our conclusion is that cavalier behaviour in the lab has become normalised in the discipline. The field still observes Liebigs credo: advancing chemistry requires maximising productivity at the possible expense of safety.

To change attitudes in the field, we need lots of data. We currently have none. We need to know how many incidents occur, what kind, who is involved, where and when they happen and, most importantly, why. Why this individual, why this lab, why this university? We also need to know what happens after the incident. Do injuries heal? Do those involved recover, or do they develop anxiety about lab work or doubts about their field of study? But first, theres another question we need to answer. How do we convince academic chemistry that this is a problem worth caring about? This requires all of us who care about safety to push the discipline in the right direction together.

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Professor/Associate Professor/Assistant Professor (Water/Wastewater Chemistry) job with CITY UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG | 192179 – Times Higher Education…

Professor/Associate Professor/Assistant Professor (Water/Wastewater Chemistry) in the School of Energy and Environment[Ref. D/131/09]

City University of Hong Kong is a dynamic, fast-growing university that is pursuing excellence in research and professional education.As a publicly-funded institution, the University is committed to nurturing and developing students talents and creating applicable knowledge to support social and economic advancement. The University has nine Colleges/Schools. As part of its pursuit of excellence, the University aims to recruitoutstanding scholarsfrom all over the world in various disciplines, includingbusiness, creative media, data science, energy and environment, engineering, humanities and social sciences, law, science, veterinary medicine and life sciences.

Applications and nominations are invited for the above posts:

The School of Energy and Environment was established at City University of Hong Kong in July 2009 with the mission to perform cutting-edge research and provide professional education in energy-and environment-related issues. It is the first and only such School in Hong Kong and one of the few in Asia. The School has experienced tremendous growth over its ten years. For details of the School, please visit the website at

The School is currently seeking outstanding candidates to submit applications for faculty positions in the following core areas: water or wastewater chemistry. This position is part of the strategic development of the School to strengthen research and education related to aquatic environments. The School welcomes research that involves field observation, laboratory experimentation and/or theoretical modeling. The successful candidate is expected to develop a vigorous, externally-funded research programme and provide excellence in teaching at all levels. The School collaborates with the State Key Laboratory in Marine Pollution ( to pursue interdisciplinary water related research; candidates should be able to complement existing expertise both within and outside the School.

Applications and nominations are invited for the above posts:


Teach at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, supervise research students at master and doctoral levels, conduct high-level research, develop new research directions and courses when necessary, and contribute creatively and professionally in the School, and for the benefit of the community and industry. The appointees will also be assigned to take up administrative duties to facilitate the development of the activities of the School.


A PhD in closely-related disciplines with a strong research record in terms of grants, publications and patents, and good teaching ability.

Candidates for Associate Professor should have a number of high-impact publications and grants, and a demonstrated ability/potential to develop a research area on their own.

Candidates for Professor should have outstanding research and international reputation.

Information and Application

Information on the posts and the University is available at, or from the Human Resources Office, City University of Hong Kong, Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong [Email : 2788 1154 or 3442 0311]. Further information can be obtained from the School of Energy and Environment [Email : 3442 0688].

To apply, please submit an online application at, and include a cover letter, with the curriculum vitae, a detailed research plan (3 pages maximum), a teaching philosophy statement and plan (2 pages maximum), as well as a list of three referees. Nominations can be sent directly to the School of Energy and Environment [Email].The review process will continue until the position is filled. Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted; and those shortlisted for the post of Assistant Professor will be requested to arrange for at least 3 reference reports sent directly by the referees to the School, specifying the position applied for. The University's privacy policy is available on the homepage.

City University of Hong Kong is an equal opportunity employer and we are committed to the principle of diversity. Personal data provided by applicants will be used for recruitment and other employment-related purposes.

Worldwide recognition ranking 52nd, and 4th among top 50 universities under age 50 (QS survey 2020); 1st in Engineering/Technology/Computer Sciences in Hong Kong (ARWU survey 2016); and 2nd Business School in Asia-Pacific region (UT Dallas survey 2017).

Professor/Associate Professor/Assistant Professor (Water/Wastewater Chemistry) job with CITY UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG | 192179 - Times Higher Education...

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Christopher Meloni Gushes over Mariska Hargitay and the Chemistry They Had on Law & Order: SVU – AmoMama

While talking about his experience on the set of the television series "Law & Order: SVU," Christopher recounted one very memorable event that occurred. He spoke about how he and his co-star, Mariska Hargitay, had instant chemistry.

When Christopher Meloni got a call to audition for the television series, "Law & Order: SVU," he saw it as a great opportunity. Accordingto him, he did a great job at the audition because he could relate well to the character he was to portray.

It took a while before he got a call back from them, but he eventually did, and he was paired with actress Mariska Hargitay.


Like many actors in Hollywood, Chris Melony and Mariska Hargitay got along very well behind the scenes. Mariskasaidas soon as they got paired up, they both knew they were going to get cast. She said they had instant chemistry.

Christopher also thought so. He said they hit it off immediately. They were comfortable with each other, and he thinks their relationship contributed to the success of the show. Hesaid,

"She and I hit it off right from the get-go."

The viewers of the show loved their chemistry andhopedthat they would one day end up as a couple in real life. However, this never happened. The same way their characters never dated on screen, they never became anything more than friends off-screen.


The duo portrayed two lead detectives named after the creator, Dick Wolf's children, Elliot and Olivia. They were partners in the series and were a perfect fit.

While Olivia Benson was the passionate and empathetic one, Elliot Stabler was the one who embodied the "how can this happen" feeling. Their characters were utterly relatable as they both represented the way we would feel when we hear about the cases they worked on.

On and off-screen, Chris Meloni and Mariska Hargitay got along well and remained close even after he left the show in 2011. Since then, they had severalreunionsand even spent one night out. They documented most of their outings on their Instagram pages.

In 2016, more than seven years later, their relationship was still as strong as ever. They went out again, and Mariska took to Instagram to share their pictures. Shecaptioned the photo,

"And then that happened... Just when I thought Valentine's Day was over."


Chris left the show because he couldn't make things work with the executives of the show. He had a contract dispute with NBC and decided to go.

On the show "Watch What Happens Live," Chris was asked if he regretted leaving "Law & Order: SVU,"and hesaid:"not for a day."

Even after this response, his fans didn't give up hope. They had faith that the way he shocked them with his departure, he would surprise them again with his appearance.

This, however, wasn't the case as the actor crushed the hearts of many when he tweeted in 2018 that he had zero plans to return to the show.


Christopher was paired and worked with Mariska for about 12 years, and although they maintained a tight relationship all through, they never crossed any lines even though that was what the fans wanted.

At the time when he played Elliot Stabler on screen, he was married to hiswife, Sherman Williams. They met in 1989 while Christopher was working on the set of a television series.

He said when she rode in her motorcycle, she made an impression, and he knew he had to meet her. However, at the time, Sherman had a boyfriend.

Years passed before they were finally single at the same time, they became a couple and married later in a medieval-themed wedding ceremony on the beach in Malibu.

They both had lived in different parts of the country. While Chris Meloni's wife preferred Los Angeles, Chris preferred New York. Eventually, they were able to agree to settle and raise their two kids in New York.

Mariska, on the other hand,marriedthe American actor Peter Hermann in 2004, and they have three children together.

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United Steelworkers sues EPA over weakening of chemical safety rule – Reuters

FILE PHOTO: A United Steelworkers flag flies outside the Local 1299 union hall in Ecorse, Michigan, U.S., September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United Steelworkers sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in federal court on Thursday in a bid to reverse its gutting of a safety rule at chemical plants, the union said.

The largest U.S. industrial unions lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia adds to previous litigation against the rollback of Obama-era chemical safety rules.

The Trump administrations EPA in November released its Risk Management Program, which rids chemical plants of what EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said were unnecessary regulatory burdens.

The plan weakened the Obama-era 2017 Chemical Disaster Rule, which bolstered measures to reduce risk at chemical plants with measures like third-party audits and safety technology analysis. The measure was developed in the wake of a deadly 2013 explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant that killed 15 people.

Eliminating these requirements will allow a profit-hungry industry to police itself while putting workers, first responders and the public at risk, Tom Conway, the USWs international president, said in a statement.

The EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The union said recent incidents at facilities where its members work prompted its lawsuit to reinstate the Chemical Disaster Rule, citing a fire and explosions at a Philadelphia Energy Solutions oil refinery in June.

In December, a coalition of 13 environmental and science organizations sued the EPA in federal appeals court to challenge its crippling of the Chemical Disaster Rule, alleging violations of the Clean Air Act.

Reporting by Sebastien Malo; Editing by Dan Grebler

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