Statements from Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters in Support of Administration and EPA Action on Chemical Plant Safety

October 11, 2013

 “In 2006, then-Senator Obama said, ‘We cannot allow chemical industry lobbyists to dictate the terms of this debate. We cannot allow our security to be hijacked by corporate interests.’ President Obama and his administration need to act now to increase the safety and security of our citizens here at home,” said Major General Randy Manner (ret.). “At least 100 million Americans are close enough to a chemical plant or storage facility to be at risk if an explosion or major incident occurs.”

“Over 10 years ago, we treated the wastewater at our plant with chlorine gas and we kept between 30-40 tons of it onsite,” said John Birkner, President, Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 534 and the mayor of Westwood, NJ. “Chlorine gas is deadly if it escapes, and in the one of the most densely populated areas of the most densely populated state in the country, that means tens of thousands of people’s lives were at risk if a chemical leak or explosion occurred. Today, we treat the water with diluted liquid bleach that disinfects the water but doesn’t have the risk of explosion or exposure to toxic chemicals.”

“Right after 911, The Texas Attorney General came to Houston and spoke to us and explained that of every category that qualifies as a terrorist target, Houston as at least one each of those terrorist targets. We have more fertilizer and chemical plants in our petrochemical corridor than anywhere else in the country.If a terrorist hits here, millions would die and millions more would become more sick than they are now from chemical exposure. I hope that President Obama comes up with a real policy that protects our community from the dangers of these chemicals,” comments Juan Parras, Texas Environmental Justivce Advocacy Services (TEJAS), Houston.

“The American people strongly support better federal oversight to prevent chemical disasters,” said Katherine McFate, President and CEO of the Center for Effective Government. “This support grows when people learn that many chemical companies have already switched to safer alternatives.”

“We can’t wait for another disaster before we act. The recent tragedies in West, Texas and Geismar, Louisiana show why we urgently need a common sense disaster prevention policy for high-risk chemical facilities,” said Rick Hind, Legislative Director of Greenpeace.

“This poll shows that, in spite of the all ‘regulation is bad for business’ spin meisters, the American people haven’t lost their common sense,” said Charlotte Brody, Vice President of Health Initiatives for the BlueGreen Alliance. “The overwhelming majority of people, regardless of their political affiliation, support laws and regulations that will prevent their community from chemical explosions or deadly chemical leaks by moving to the safest practical chemicals and technologies. Now we need the Obama administration to let that common sense become policies that protect the common good.”