In comments and petition signatures delivered to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this morning, more than 100,000 people urged the
agency to update the safety requirements for some of the country’s largest hazardous chemical processing facilities.
Comments and signatures were gathered by Public Citizen, Greenpeace, U.S. PIRG, the Sierra Club, BlueGreen Alliance, and many others.
The chemical processing facilities in question are places like fertilizer plants, oil refineries, and bleach manufacturers. Roughly 110 million Americans, or one-third of the country, live in a high-risk zone near a chemical processing facility.
The Center for Effective Government has put together a handy (or terrifying) map showing the locations these chemical plants, and their proximity to public schools.
The EPA is looking for ways to improve its Risk Management Program, a move prompted by an executive order from President Obama that was issued in the wake of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.
The fertilizer plant, which housed more than 270 tons of flammable chemicals but lacked a fire sprinkler system, exploded last April while emergency crews were responding to a fire. The blast killed 15 people, injured 226 more, and destroyed 150 homes.
The EPA’s new plan could prevent tragedies like the one in West, Texas by making new safety standards a requirement for facilities that manufacture and process hazardous chemicals.
The EPA’s new plan to manage these dangerous plants should include requirements for safer processing methods, reduced use of the most dangerous chemicals, and of course, commonsense safety measures like fire sprinklers.
With more than 110 million Americans at risk, it’s far past time for the EPA to act.
Kelly Ngo is the Online Advocacy Organizer for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division.