Preventing Chemical Disasters
One in three people in the U.S. live within the danger zone of a hazardous chemical facility. Thankfully, they don’t have to. We’re working to turn that one into a zero.
© Robert Visser / Greenpeace
Together with allies in the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters, we’re working to protect all Americans from the risk of a chemical disaster.
It’s been more than one year since President Obama introduced an executive order to improve chemical safety and security. However, within that year we don’t know that anything can be done to improve facilities and protect communities.
The only people at greater risk than the workers themselves are those living in the communities that surround these facilities. These impacted communities shouldn’t have to brace themselves for a chemical disaster—it’s the responsibility of the U.S. government to mandate that the chemical industry protect those communities.
Clorox Proves It’s Possible
Fortunately, safer, cost-effective chemicals and processes are already widely available. Since 2001, hundreds of chemical facilities have made the switch and eliminated risks to 40 million people in 47 states. Clorox Company, for instance, converted its high-risk facilities to safer technologies. Not every company will make that voluntary change, unfortunately. It is up to President Obama and the EPA to require it.
The EPA has a mandate to protect human health and the environment. This federal agency also has a specific directive to make environmental justice part of its mission and address the disproportionate health and environmental impacts throughout its programs, policies and activities to the extent appropriate and permitted by law. The existing policy gaps to address chemical safety and security are inherently flawed and fail to protect the most vulnerable populations, which include low-income and communities of color residing near chemical facilities, refineries, water treatment plants and ports facilities where hazardous chemicals are stored.
That is what agencies like the EPA are for.
It’s time for President Obama and the EPA to take action and use their authority under the Clean Air Act to require dangerous chemical facilities to use safer alternatives.