Failed Inspection

Feature story - May 21, 2010
Two DuPont chemical facilities in Delaware and New Jersey failed citizen safety inspections as the plants continue to pose a catastrophic risk to 2 million people. Greenpeace inspectors conducted land, air and water inspections of these high-risk chemical plants to highlight the reasons we need safer alternatives and to call attention to federal legislation that would help reduce the potential of chemical disasters.

Putting up fences and security cameras won't protect workers and communities from tons of poison gases that are stored in these facilities. The only foolproof way to protect communities is to use safer chemical processes that reduce both the possibility of a catastrophic accident and the attractiveness of these facilities as a terrorist target.

Safer alternatives DO exist

The fact of the matter is that DuPont can convert their plants, they simply lack the will to do so. The recent disasters in the petrochemical industry show us that we can't rely on the industry to regulate itself.

The greatest risk posed by U.S. chemical plants is the use of huge quantities of poison gases such as chlorine. Fortunately safer processes are available for virtually all of them.

In fact, more than 500 chemical plants have switched to safer chemicals or processes over the last ten years. This common sense action has reduced catastrophic risks to 40 million Americans. That's the good news. The bad news is that most of the highest risk plants have NOT adopted safer processes -- and they won't until laws are passed that require them to do so.

Lobbying against safety

Since the 9/11 attacks, chemical industry lobbyists, including Dow, DuPont, BP and Exxon have blocked strong legislation. Greenpeace identified 169 lobbyists registered to keep Congress from enacting a strong chemical security law. But last November, the House of Representatives passed a bill (H.R. 2868) that would reduce these risks. It's now time for the U.S. Senate to do the same. Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) will soon introduce the "Secure Chemical and Water Facilities Act" in the Senate.

In 2009, Clorox announced that they would convert all of their U.S. plants to reduce these risks. If Clorox can do it, why won't DuPont?

Failed Security Inspections

DuPont Edge Moor

  • Vulnerability Zone Population = 660,000
  • Process - Uses chlorine gas in producing titanium dioxide pigments 
  • Alternative - Use the sulfate process; also, chlorine can be generated as needed without bulk storage.

DuPont Chamber Works 

  • Vulnerability Zone Population = 2,000,000
  • Process - Uses chlorine gas to make phosgene as needed in producing aramid polymers 
  • Alternative - Generage chlorine gas as needed or co-locate with an as needed source; eliminate or minimize storage.

Read the report

Passed Security Inspection  

City of Wilmington Water Pollution Control Facility Wilmington, DE

  • Plant Type: Wastewater treatment
  • Previously used chlorine gas
  • Switched to liquid bleach disinfection
  • 560,000 people no longer at risk

Prevent a toxic nightmare in your community

Greenpeace uncovered chemical security risks at two chemical plants in Delaware and New Jersey. Did you know that the Department of Homeland Security has identified over 5,333 "high-risk" chemical plants in the United States? They plan to inspect only 3% of them by the end of 2010.  Just 300 of these plants together put 110 million Americans at risk.

You or someone you love could be in the vulnerability zone. Please help us get the word out! Urge your Senators to prevent a toxic nightmare in your community by co-sponsoring and voting for the "Secure Chemical and Water Facilities Act." Safer technologies exist, let's help make them a reality!

Take action

Prevent a toxic nightmare in your community!