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.

Toxic Patrol in Baton Rouge

© 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.

President Obama introduced an executive order to improve chemical safety and security in 2013, but it’s up to people across the country to make sure that actually happens.

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 and more 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 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, but Donald Trump has threatened to “dismantle the EPA entirely.” We can’t let that happen — if we want to protect vulnerable communities from environmental injustice, we must resist.

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