Mission: Environmental health, environmental justice, labor, community, and national security organizations join together as the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters to advance the use of safer chemicals and processes that protect our communities from catastrophic chemical disasters.
The Issue: In just the first eight months of 2013, there have been at least eight major chemical incidents, including the explosion in West, TX that killed 14 people, injured hundreds, and destroyed an entire neighborhood. Every day, millions of people live and work in the shadow of 12,440 high-risk chemical plants that store and use highly hazardous chemicals with the potential to kill or injure thousands of workers and community residents. Eighty-nine of these facilities put more than one million people at risk.
The people who live in communities surrounding these facilities are at greater risk than anyone except the workers in the plant in the event of an explosion or catastrophic release of a poison gas. These communities are more likely to be low-income communities and communities of color. These risks represent a major environmental injustice that has persisted for almost three decades following the worst chemical accident in history at Union Carbide’s facility in Bhopal, India. That disaster killed an estimated 20,000 people.
Fortunately, safer, cost-effective chemicals and processes are widely available. Since 2001, hundreds of chemical facilities have switched and eliminated risks to 40 million people in 47 states. Some companies, like Clorox Company, have converted their high-risk facilities to safer technologies. While this is encouraging, these voluntary efforts have left more than 100 million people in the U.S. still at risk near the most dangerous high-risk facilities.
It is time for the President and the EPA to take action and use their authority under the Clean Air Act and other laws and regulations to require dangerous chemical facilities to use safer alternatives.