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AUSTIN– 284 chemical facilities in 47 states successfully reduced the danger of a chemical release by switching to less acutely hazardous processes or chemicals, according to a new Center for American Progress report released today by the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG). These findings come at the same time the chemical industry is actively lobbying to remove this solution from chemical security legislation in Congress. The report, "Preventing Toxic Terrorism," analyzed the responses to a survey of chemical facilities that removed themselves from EPA’s Risk Management Program because they were no longer using large amounts of hazardous chemicals.
“Despite chemical industry claims that this is unworkable, chemical facilities across the country are changing to safer chemicals and processes to reduce their risk to surrounding communities,” said Adam Schurle, Citizen Outreach Director for TexPIRG. “If the federal government required chemical facilities to seek out and implement these solutions wherever possible, millions more could be removed from harm’s way.”
Key findings of this report include:
- At least 30 million people no longer live under the threat of a major toxic gas cloud as a result of changes made by 200 facilities;
- 217 of these facilities made changes because they were concerned about an accidental chemical release, and 117 were concerned about terrorism; and
- 11 facilities previously had more than 1,000,000 people living within their vulnerability zones before they made changes to safer alternatives.
The report highlighted manufacturing facilities in the cleaning products, paper, glass, food products, chemical, and metal industries that have made changes to reduce their vulnerability zones. In addition, the report highlighted power plants, pool service facilities and drinking water and wastewater facilities.
“A wide range of chemical facilities have made substantial changes at their facilities to protect communities,” said Schurle. “Industry’s claims that they cannot make these changes are clearly unfounded. Congress should require that plant managers consider the use of safer chemicals, processes, technology, and design, and make these changes wherever possible.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified more than 100 chemical facilities that each put more than one million people at risk of injury or death because of the hazardous chemicals they use and store onsite. No federal regulation requires industries to consider using safer chemicals or processes. TexPIRG encouraged the Texas congressional delegation to support requiring facilities to change their chemicals and processes to a safer alternative in order to protect the communities in which they operate.
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