Congress Fails to Prevent Toxic Chemical Disasters
by John Deans
October 1, 2010
The US Congress has done it again: NOTHING. The biggest environmental issues they have been charged with tackling have gone untouched in lieu of playing politics. Among the top overlooked dangers was the security of the nation’s chemical facilities, they are merely continuing the current weak law.
In the month of April 45 US workers were killed by fossil fuels. The Massey Energy coal mine explosion on April 6th killed 29, and the Deepwater Horizon explosion on the 20th killed 11. How did the other 5 people die? In a far-underreported incident on April 10th an explosion at the Tesoro Corp. refinery in Washington State claimed the other 5 victims.
These tragedies all demonstrate the inherent danger in industrial processes. Accidents happen and the consequences are the loss of human life. If an incident of this scale occurred at any of the hundreds of dangerous chemical facilities around the country the human tragedy could be catastrophic. What scares me more is not just the potential for a catastrophic accident, but an intentional act by a terrorist. And on Aug. 2, two men were convicted of conspiring to blow up jet-fuel tanks at JFK Airport in New York. Authorities said their plan was meant to “dwarf” the Sept.11 attacks. Currently, 110 million Americans live in the vulnerability zone of one of these facilities, that’s 1/3 of our population!
There are safer alternatives to these dangerous processes, but Congress needs to pass legislation that will institute new standards for the most dangerous facilities, requiring them to switch to these alternatives when feasible. It’s campaign season, so representatives and senators are out and about in your community, either asking for your vote, or campaigning for their friends. They need to hear from the American people that we need better leadership that puts protecting communities before protecting corporate profits.
Ask you Senator to support the Secure Chemical Facilities Act S. 3599 and the Secure Water Facilities Act S.3598 to keep you safe from a toxic chemical disaster.