Press Releases, Uncategorized

EPA Proposed Rule: A Missed Opportunity to Prevent Plant Chemical Disasters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

EPA Proposed Rule: A Missed Opportunity to Prevent Plant Chemical Disasters

(Washington, D.C. – February 26, 2016) – The Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters issued the following statement in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed “Modernization of the Accidental Release Prevention Regulations under Clean Air Act.”

As a result of President Obama’s August 1, 2013 Executive Order (#13650), the EPA took an important step in proposing that certain high risk chemical plants assess the feasibility of safer technologies. However, it will be a tragic missed opportunity if in the final rule the EPA allows these facilities to conceal the results of their assessments from the residents, schools, and hospitals near these facilities (as proposed by the Agency), and fails to prevent future disasters by requiring the use of safer alternatives for all hazardous facilities where they are feasible.

Since 2009 both consideration and adoption of inherently safer technologies were stated as “core principles” for chemical facility security by the Obama administration.

Among the other ways the proposed rule fails:

  • It fails to require chemical facilities to send their safer alternatives analysis (STAA) to the EPA or share with the public.
  • It exempts 87 percent of the 12,543 (RMP) chemical facilities from requirements to conduct STAAs, including water treatment facilities, some of which put major cities at risk of a catastrophic release of chlorine gas.
  • Although the proposed rule’s projected annual cost would be a fraction of the average cost of damages wrought by chemical disasters, the rule fails to require facilities to assess the avoided costs and catastrophic liability facilities would benefit from by adopting safer chemical processes.
  • It fails to establish a publicly accessible clearinghouse of safer available alternatives that could encourage and support the adoption of safer alternatives by more facilities.
  • It suggests using a patch work of company web sites, libraries or government offices to disclose information on facility hazards to emergency planners and community residents, but fails to propose a one stop 24/7 access to the same information via an EPA web site.
  • It fails to propose buffer zones around existing facilities or restrictions on the location of new facilities in populated areas.

As a result, most of the proposed rule is focused on post-disaster measures such as accident investigations, emergency response, evacuations and shelter in place. Without more emphasis on prevention, many more response resources will be needed for the additional incidents and resulting deaths, injuries and property damage that will occur.

According to the EPA “in the past 10 years nearly 60 people died, some 17,000 people were injured or sought medical treatment, and almost 500,000 people were evacuated or sheltered-in- place as a result of accidental releases at chemical plants. During that time, more than 1,500

incidents were reported causing over $2 billion in property damages.” Since the April 17, 2013 West, Texas disaster that inspired this rule there have been over 430 incidents and 82 deaths.

President Obama was a leader on prevention in the Senate and as President issued executive order. Posterity will not look kindly on our failure to prevent chemical disasters today.

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The Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters is composed of over 100 environmental justice, labor, public health, national security, and environmental organizations.

CONTEXT:

Following an October 13, 2015 meeting with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the Coalition proposed a compromise pilot program among five priority areas:

1)  Require all RMP facilities to conduct and submit alternatives…building on lessons from the New Jersey IST program and other relevant state or local programs; require that these assessments include a comprehensive analysis of the financial benefits as well as safety enhancements of options and make these assessments publicly available.

2)  Begin a pilot program to require IST implementation in a subset of RMP facility categories… such as waste water and drinking water treatment plants, bleach plants and hydrogen fluoride refineries, and for those facilities among the 2,000 high-risk facilities cited in the EPA’s National Enforcement Initiative (NEI) 2017-19 proposal…

3)  Ensure the protection of disproportionately at-risk populations and underserved communities. Launch an immediate national emergency response survey to be completed within six months to assess the capacity of local first responders and medical facilities to respond to worst case chemical disaster scenarios as reported to the EPA through RMP facility reports. This would include assessment of training needs, availability of state-of-the art response and rescue equipment and hospital capacity…EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice could also consider providing Environmental Justice Partnership grants, including potentially to the same communities receiving TAG grants, to support community chemical facility accident prevention and response needs. Provide funding through the NIEHS Worker Education and Training Program for joint community and worker training in IST analysis, implementation and oversight.

4)  Require the involvement of workers and their representative unions in the alternatives assessments and feasibility analyses of IST. Ensure that all facility employees have whistleblower protection (i.e., ability to anonymously report safety concerns), participate in inspections and in alternatives analyses assessments, and have adequate education and training to participate in those processes. Ensure that workers and communities are fully trained and empowered to participate in planning and reviewing assessments and decisions.

5) Increase the scope of reportable RMP elements to include “near misses” or process upsets, which will ensure that the industry records these events. In addition, the EPA should establish a clearinghouse of de-registered RMP facilities that have adopted safer chemicals or processes to eliminate catastrophic hazards. This information is critical in preventing future catastrophic events and is an essential transparency tool for future policy changes. There also needs to be improved public access to an expanded scope of RMP information, which currently is not accessible online and is difficult to interpret, even for those with technical training and industry experience.

Press Releases

Poll Shows Bi-Partisan Support for New Rules to Prevent Chemical Disasters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                          

Poll Shows Bi-Partisan Support for New Rules to Prevent Chemical Disasters
But Will EPA Fall Short?

(Washington DC—October 8, 2015)— As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers new chemical plant safety rules, a new national survey of likely 2016 voters shows strong support among Democrats, Republicans and Independents for policies that would eliminate catastrophic hazards.

Strong majorities across gender, age, race, partisanship, and region support new requirements to use safer chemicals and processes. Overall 79 percent of likely voters support these new requirements and only 17 percent oppose them:

  • Democrats: 88 percent support, 76 percent strongly
  • Independents: 77 percent support, 60 percent strongly
  • Republicans: 70 percent support, 49 percent strongly

Since the deadly 2013 West, Texas fertilizer disaster 82 people have been killed and 1,600 injured in over 400 chemical plant incidents. According to facility reports to the EPA, over 100 million Americans still live in chemical hazard zones. In addition to putting facility employees at risk, communities closest to hazardous facilities are disproportionately African American and Latino.

In an October 8th letter to President Obama, leaders of the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters cited the new polling results and warned the President that his August 2013 Executive Order (#13650) directing EPA and other agencies to modernize their regulations has yet to yield new safety regulations.

In their letter to the President the groups said:

We fear that the EPA may fall far short of the prevention policies you advocated for in the Senate, and the principles your administration advanced on Capitol Hill. Primary among those principles were requirements to use safer chemical processes or inherently safer technologies (IST) where feasible.”

“It is essential that the EPA make cost-effective inherently safer technologies (IST) requirements an integral part of any revision of its Risk Management Program (RMP) to eliminate the many catastrophic hazards faced by workers and communities across the U.S.

The groups also reminded the President that cost-effective safer alternatives are widely available (eg., Washington, D.C.’s waste water treatment plant and all U.S. Clorox facilities have converted), but new requirements are needed to ensure their use.

The poll was done by Lake Research Partners on behalf of the BlueGreen Alliance, Center for Effective Government, Communications Workers of America, Greenpeace, Union of Concerned Scientists and the United Steelworkers.

###

Contact: Eric Steen, Director of Communications
BlueGreen Alliance
(612) 325-6110 (c)
Erics@bluegreenalliance.org

Sabrina Williams, Communications Director
Center for Effective Government
(202) 683-4883
swilliams@foreffectivegov.org

Candice Johnson, Director, Communications Department
Communications Workers of America
202-434-1347
cjohnson@cwa-union.org

Rick Hind, Legislative Director
Greenpeace
(202) 413-8513
Rick.hind@greenpeace.org

Seth Michaels, Communications Officer
Union of Concerned Scientists
202-331-5662
smichaels@ucsusa.org

Michael J. Wright, Director of Health, Safety and Environment
United Steelworkers
(412) 562-2580
mwright@usw.org

Lake Research Partner designed this survey, which reached a total of 1,009 adults nationwide in the continental United States (508 by landline, and 501 by cell phone), including 794 likely voters. It was conducted from August 20-23, 2015, and has a margin of error among adults of +/-3.1% and among likely voters of +/-3.5%, both at the 95% confidence interval. The margin of error is higher among subgroups.

Poll Memo:
http://www.lakeresearch.com/images/share/memo.ChemicalFacilitySafety.F.100815.pdf

Poll Power point:
http://www.lakeresearch.com/images/share/report.ChemicalFacility.Omnibus.FRev.100815.pdf

https://preventchemicaldisasters.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/coalition-ltr-to-obama-2015-final.pdf

https://preventchemicaldisasters.org/resources/158971-2/

http://comingcleaninc.org/whats-new/whos-in-danger-report#sthash.kzGJ9WDF.dpuf

Press Releases

Two Years After President Obama Directed Action, Federal Agencies Are Still at the Starting Line

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 30, 2015

 

Two Years After President Obama Directed Action, Federal Agencies Are Still at the Starting Line

New Data from the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters Show 431 Chemical Releases or Explosions, Causing More than 82 Deaths and 1,600 Injuries Since April 2013

On the second anniversary of President Obama’s executive order to improve the safety of America’s chemical plants, the more than 100 members of the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters issued the following statement:

Two years ago, on Aug. 1, 2013, President Obama issued Executive Order 13650, “Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security.” The executive order directed several federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to “enhance safety and security in chemical facilities by modernizing key policies, regulations, and standards…”

The executive order was prompted in part by the tragic fertilizer plant explosion on April 17, 2013, in West, Texas. The blast killed 15 people, injured over 200, and severely damaged surrounding neighborhoods, including three schools.

Despite that tragedy and other recent deadly chemical plant explosions, these facilities remain as dangerous today as they were two years ago.

In the two years since the executive order, there have been no concrete actions to protect our schools, workers, and communities from chemical disasters. The EPA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have not taken significant steps to require chemical companies to improve the safety of their facilities.

The chemical industry continues to lobby for voluntary, industry-written safety standards. But allowing the industry to police itself has proven disastrously ineffective. In the little more than two years since the devastating explosion in West, Texas, there have been at least 431 chemical releases or explosions, causing more than 82 deaths and 1,600 injuries.

The magnitude of the danger is striking. Over 100 million Americans live in areas at risk of a chemical disaster from at least one dangerous chemical facility. At least one-third of all U.S. schoolchildren attend a school inside chemical disaster “vulnerability zones.” Workers in these facilities live with the risk of injury or death every day. Furthermore, communities of color and low-income communities bear a disproportionate risk of harm from chemical disasters. Recent analysis of 3,433 hazardous chemical facilities found that the percentage of Blacks living in “fenceline” zones nearest to the facilities was 75% greater than for the U.S. as a whole, and the percentage of Latinos in these zones was 60% greater.

President Obama has an historic opportunity to safeguard the communities and workers threatened by dangerous chemical plants, but chemical industry lobbying and administrative agency delays are allowing his legacy to slip away. His EPA has authority under the Clean Air Act to issue new rules with a commonsense requirement that chemical facilities switch to safer chemicals and technology where feasible. Such a requirement would greatly reduce—and in many cases completely eliminate—the risk from dangerous chemical facilities.  It would also be consistent with the Obama administration’s stated principles and his leadership during his time as a Senator, when he warned against industry lobbying hijacking our safety and security.

The EPA claims it is moving forward to propose new rules this September, but to ensure strong protections for the millions of Americans at risk of chemical disasters, the rule must include mandatory safety requirements, and it must be finalized 60 legislative days before President Obama leaves office to prevent reversal by a new Congress in 2017.

For more than four years, our coalition, made up of over 100 environmental justice, labor, public health, national security, and environmental organizations, has called on President Obama and the EPA to implement these critical, life-saving reforms. The administration must act, and act now.

Contact:

Brian Gumm, Center for Effective Government

(202) 683-4812

bgumm@foreffectivegov.org

 

Rick Hind, Greenpeace

(202) 413-8513

rhind@greenpeace.org

 

Carli Jensen, U.S. Public Interest Research Group

(206) 766-0510

cjensen@pirg.org

 

Eric N. Whalen, Coming Clean

(971) 998-8786

ericwhalen@comingcleaninc.org

 

Richard Moore, Los Jardines Institute

505-301-0276

ljinewmexico@gmail.com

 

Michele L. Roberts, national co-coordinator

Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform

202-704-7593

mroberts@comingcleaninc.org

 

Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters:

http://preventchemicaldisasters.org

 

Links

Executive Order: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/08/01/executive-order-improving-chemical-facility-safety-and-security

Working Group Report to the President: https://www.osha.gov/chemicalexecutiveorder/final_chemical_eo_status_report.pdf

Center for Effective Government, Kids in Danger Zones, September 2014, http://www.foreffectivegov.org/kids-in-danger-zones

Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform, Who’s in Danger? Race, Poverty, and Chemical Disasters, May 2014, http://comingcleaninc.org/whats-new/whos-in-danger-report

Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters, Chemical Incident Data, https://preventchemicaldisasters.org/resources/chemical-incident-data-2/

http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2013-11/documents/secale.pdf

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/332037-blue-green-coalition-letter-to-obama-june-21-2011.html

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1380842-epw-12-11-14chemical-accidents-charts-v5.html

http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201410&RIN=2050-AG82

https://preventchemicaldisasters.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/coalition-ltr-to-pres-obama-final-march-2015.pdf

 

Chronology of the EPA “Considering” Chemical Disaster Prevention:

1995 “EPA does not favor inclusion of a specific requirement in the initial program for an analysis of the inherent safety of processes…EPA is considering further study of this issue with all stakeholders and requests comment on this issue.”

 

2002 Following the 9/11 attacks, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman proposed regulations in 2002 following the 9/11 attacks but they were scuttled by the Bush White House. She has since urged Obama to issue new safety rules.

 

2009 Peter S. Silva, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, testified in favor of requirements to use inherently safer technologies(IST) also known as safer chemical processes.

 

2010 Cynthia Dougherty, EPA’s Director of the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water of the Office of Water testified in favor of requirements to use inherently safer technologies (IST) also known as safer chemical processes.

 

2011 Rand Beers, Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary testified in favor of requirements to use safer technologies (IST) also known as safer chemical processes.

 

2012 EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council recommended that the “EPA use its authority under the 1990 Clean Air Act section 112 (r) to reduce or eliminate these catastrophic risks, where feasible, by issuing new rules and guidance…”

 

2012 EPA says they will address a petition from 54 organizations urging that they use their Clean Air Act authority to require inherently safer technologies (IST).

 

2013 President Obama issued Executive Order 13650 giving federal agencies such as the EPA, DHS and OSHA nine months to propose ways to modernize their chemical facility safety and security policies.

 

2014 In a multi-agency report to the President the EPA pledged to complete new regulations by 2016 including possible requirements for inherently safer technologies (IST)

 

2015 EPA plans to issue “proposed” regulations in September 2015 with the expectation of completing them in 2016.

 

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Press Releases

Coalition Response to EPA and OSHA’s Voluntary Chemical Disaster “Alert” Calls on President Obama to Issue Enforceable Requirement

In response to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and
Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) new chemical
facility alert, the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters issued the
following statement:

Yesterday’s alert from the EPA & OSHA will not protect workers or communities
from chemical disasters. Two years after the fatal West, TX fertilizer
explosion, we need more than voluntary measures and recommendations.

Allowing the chemical industry to police itself has proven woefully
ineffective in the past. For example, an EPA alert on chemical facility
safety issued in February 2000 did little more than remind companies of
their legal obligation to prevent catastrophic releases. And just since
the West, TX tragedy in 2013, there have been over 350 chemical
accidents resulting in 79 deaths and 1,500 hospitalizations.

Our Coalition, which is composed of over 100 environmental justice,
labor, public health, national security, and environmental organizations
has called on President Obama since June 2011 to honor his 2008 pledge
to issue enforceable regulations to prevent tragedies like the disaster
in West that killed 15 people and injured over 200. President Obama has
a historic opportunity to protect the more than 100 million Americans
(including one in three schoolchildren) at risk of a chemical disaster
and fulfill his oath of office.

President Obama issued an executive order (13650) on Aug. 1, 2013
directing agencies to modernize their regulations in the wake of the
West tragedy, but they have not issued any new requirements to prevent
chemical disasters. EPA is the federal agency with the greatest
authority to issue new chemical facility safety rules, yet the agency
has delayed proposing new regulations until September 2015.

Typically, an EPA rule can take 12-15 months to finalize. In a March 19
letter to President Obama, the Coalition warned that waiting until
September “will jeopardize finalizing a rule before you leave office….
To ensure that new rules do take effect, they must be finalized well in
advance of the end of your administration’s term in office.”

Following a May 2, 2014 meeting with the EPA, OSHA, and the Department
of Homeland Security (DHS), the Coalition sent the agencies a letter
urging them to implement new, prevention-based regulations within 18
months, including:

Implement primary prevention policies that require chemical facility
owners and operators to use safer chemicals or processes wherever
feasible to prevent disasters

Prioritize protection of the most vulnerable populations, including
workers, fenceline communities, and first responders

OSHA should modernize its Process Safety Management (PSM) standard,
including continual safety improvements, the use of inherently safer
technologies, and it should ensure that its PSM facilities are also
included in the EPA’s Risk Management Program

Enhance funding for emergency response, emergency planning, evacuation,
and possible relocation of impacted communities when safer chemicals and
processes are not available

Ensure regular inspections of facilities, whistleblower protections for
workers, and personnel surety provisions that protect workers’ rights
while avoiding duplicative mandates.

Contact:
Brian Gumm, Center for Effective Government
(202) 683-4812
bgumm@foreffectivegov.org

Rick Hind, Greenpeace
(202) 413-8513
rhind@greenpeace.org

Carli Jensen, U.S. Public Interest Research Group
(206) 766-0510
cjensen@pirg.org

Eric N. Whalen, Coming Clean
(971) 998-8786
ericwhalen@comingcleaninc.org

Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters:
http://preventchemicaldisasters.org

Further Resources

Chronology of the EPA “Considering” Chemical Disaster Prevention:

1995 “EPA does not favor inclusion of a specific requirement in the
initial program for an analysis of the inherent safety of processes…EPA
is considering further study of this issue with all stakeholders and
requests comment on this issue.”

2002 Following the 9/11 attacks, EPA Administrator Christine Todd
Whitman proposed regulations in 2002 following the 9/11 attacks but they
were scuttled by the Bush White House. She has since urged Obama to
issue new safety rules.

2009 Peter S. Silva, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, testified in
favor of requirements to use inherently safer technologies(IST) also
known as safer chemical processes.

2010 Cynthia Dougherty, EPA’s Director of the Office of Ground Water and
Drinking Water of the Office of Water testified in favor of requirements
to use inherently safer technologies (IST) also known as safer chemical
processes.

2011 Rand Beers, Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary
testified in favor of requirements to use safer technologies (IST) also
known as safer chemical processes.
2012 EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council recommended
that the “EPA use its authority under the 1990 Clean Air Act section 112
(r) to reduce or eliminate these catastrophic risks, where feasible, by
issuing new rules and guidance…”

2012 EPA says they will address a petition from 54 organizations urging
that they use their Clean Air Act authority to require inherently safer
technologies (IST).

2013 President Obama issued Executive Order 13650 giving federal
agencies such as the EPA, DHS and OSHA nine months to propose ways to
modernize their chemical facility safety and security policies.

2014 In a multi-agency report to the President the EPA pledged to
complete new regulations by 2016 including possible requirements for
inherently safer technologies (IST)

2015 EPA plans to issue “proposed” regulations in September 2015 with
the expectation of completing them in 2016.

Links

http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2013-11/documents/secale.pdf
https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/332037-blue-green-coalition-letter-to-obama-june-21-2011.html
https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1380842-epw-12-11-14chemical-accidents-charts-v5.html
http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201410&RIN=2050-AG82
https://preventchemicaldisasters.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/coalition-ltr-to-pres-obama-final-march-2015.pdf

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Press Releases

We All Live in Bhopal: Commemorating 30 years of the Union Carbide Disaster in Bhopal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE             

December 01, 2014

CONTACT

Jayshree Chander, MD, MPH, 415-320-1538, beyondholistic@gmail.com

We All Live in Bhopal: Commemorating 30 years of the Union Carbide Disaster in Bhopal

Berkeley, CA – San Francisco Bay Area residents will come together December 1 – 8th to commemorate 30 years of the Union Carbide Gas Disaster in Bhopal, India, and to draw attention to industrial pollution all over the world, including our own backyards.

In addition to promoting solidarity with survivors and their children, “We All Live in Bhopal” intends to offer the Union Carbide Gas Disaster as a lens to bring into focus the widespread ecological and humanitarian injuries resulting from our global community’s prioritization of profit over environmental and human safety.

The 2012 Chevron Refinery Fire in Richmond, CA is an example of a corporation cutting costs by not replacing corroded pipes, thereby creating a disaster that placed an entire community at risk and sent 15,000 people to seek medical aid.

Another recent example is the Freedom Institute Elk River Spill in January 2014 where 10,000 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol were spilled just upstream from the drinking water treatment plant serving 300,000 people near Charleston, West Virginia.

Despite accidents in California, West Virginia and, most notably, the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion which killed fifteen people, the United States has done very little to safeguard communities across the nation from the kind of disaster that happened at Bhopal. A major theme of “We All Live in Bhopal” is that a catastrophe like the Union Carbide disaster could easily happen here unless the federal government protects people with regulations that make our chemical facilities safer.

“Restoring justice in Bhopal is a preventive measure to ensure our own safety as corporations all over the world follow how the ongoing disaster in Bhopal is handled,” says Dr. Jayshree Chander, a Bay Area physician with a specialty in occupational and environmental medicine who has spent time volunteering at a clinic for the survivors of the Union Carbide Gas disaster.

The “We All Live in Bhopal” commemorative events will include film screenings, a community art exhibition, staged performance art, panel discussions, and a game show called “Name That Corporation.” These events are being presented by Beyond Holistic, a nonprofit focused on primary prevention through healing, arts, action, humor, and medicine. For a complete list of events, click here.

The themes addressed at “We All Live in Bhopal” include: honoring the survivors & victims; making the connection with other industrial accidents and local impacts; industrial disaster prevention: examining corporate responsibility, obstacles, solutions; exploring non-toxic therapies for toxic injuries; and making conscious daily choices for a less toxic world.

The weeklong activities come on the heels of educational presentations at local university medical centers, high schools, and junior high schools that ran earlier this fall.

The 1984 Union Carbide Gas Disaster in Bhopal is considered the worst industrial tragedy in history. As many as 25,000 people have died, and around 120,000 are chronically ill. The catastrophe continues today with contaminated groundwater and soil surrounding the abandoned factory. A survey suggests children born in the contaminated areas are more likely to have congenital birth defects and neurological damage than the average child in India.

Last year, President Obama issued an Executive Order creating a three-agency working group composed of Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); that group is tasked with developing policy options which include new regulations, standards and guidance for chemical facilities. For more information, visit preventchemicaldisasters.org.

Event Endorsed by: The Pesticide Action Network-North America; International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB)-North America; University of California School of Public Health; Greenpeace; Center for Environmental Health; Institute for South Asian Studies; Berkeley Community Media; Labor Video Project San Francisco; Physicians for Social Responsibility-Bay Area; Health Care Without Harm; Global Exchange; International Development Exchange; Association for India’s Development; Alliance of South Asians Taking Action; Maquiladora and Health & Safety Support Network.

For more information, contact Dr. Jayshree Chander at 415-320-1538 or beyondholistic@gmail.com.

For a full list of events and materials, visit the Beyond Holistic website.

 

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Press Releases

30 Years After the Chemical Disaster in Bhopal: 100 Million Americans Remain at Risk, Obama EPA Could Prevent Disasters But Must Act Soon

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR PRESS CONFERENCE CALL ON:
11:30 AM (EST) Tuesday, November 25, 2014
CONTACT FOR DIAL-IN INFO: Ross Adair, 646-517-1810
ross.adair@berlinrosen.com <mailto:ross.adair@berlinrosen.com>

Washington, DC*– December 3rd, 2014 will mark the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, a deadly gas leak that claimed the lives of more than 20,000 people. Although the 1990 Clean Air Act empowered the U.S. EPA to require chemical facilities to prevent future disasters, the EPA has never used that authority.

At least 1 in 3 Americans live and work in the disaster zone of a dangerous chemical. Most recently, four workers were killed at a DuPont plant in Laporte, Texas on November 15th.

Representatives of The Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters will share lessons of the Bhopal disaster ongoing contamination there, and historic opportunities in the U.S. to ensure the use of safer available alternatives that can eliminate these hazards.

For information on global activities commemorating the Bhopal disaster
coordinated by the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal:
Reena Shadaan: 416-508-0740 or Renu Pariyadath: 512-666-7368

WHAT: Lessons of the Bhopal Disaster and the Path Forward

WHO: Participants will include:

Jayshree Chander, MD, MPH, and a doctor who has served survivors at the medical clinic created after the Bhopal disaster

Michael Wright, director of Health, Safety & Environment for the United Steel Workers*and part of an international team that went to Bhopal, India to investigate the 1984 chemical disaster.

Sean Moulton, Director of the Open Government Policy at the Center for Effective Government, who released new interactive maps of endangered schools & communities across the U.S.

Dr. Henry Clark, Executive Director of the West County Toxics Coalition, a respected environmental justice leader who has led community response to the Chevron refinery disaster in Richmond, California in 2012.

Maria Cabrera, a City Councilwoman from Wilmington, Deleware, an advocate for environmental justice and new chemical facility safety rules that prevent disasters.

Moderator: Rick Hind, Legislative Director, Greenpeace

Additional Experts Available for Q&A:

John Morawetz from the International Chemical Workers Union Council health and safety department, which represents the workers at the DuPont plant in Laporte, Texas.

Gerald V. Poje, PhD, founding board member of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.

Maya Nye, Executive Director, People Concerned About Chemical Safety, Charleston, West Virginia.

Richard Moore, director of the Los Jardines Institute and the first chair of the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC).

Michele Roberts, Campaign and Policy Coordinator, Environmental Justice and Health Alliance.

Hilton Kelley, founder and director of the Community In-Power Development Association and Regional Health Equity Council Member and 2011 Goldman Prize.

Detailed speakers list here.

WHEN: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 11:30 am (EST)*

DIAL-IN: To RSVP, please reply to Ross Adair at 646-517-1810 or
ross.adair@berlinrosen.com <mailto:ross.adair@berlinrosen.com>

##

Press Releases

One Year After Presidential Executive Order to Improve Chemical Plant Safety

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, July 31, 2014

 

One Year After Presidential Executive Order to Improve Chemical Plant Safety, Advocates Demand Faster Action

Coalition Calls on White House to Require Disaster Prevention Policies

Over one hundred organizations have advocated for more than a decade for common sense safety standards that would require high-risk chemical plants to use safer available alternatives to eliminate catastrophic hazards. Today is the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s Executive Order on Chemical Facility Safety and Security (E.O.13650), which directs federal agencies to modernize chemical plant safety and security policies. The Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters released the following statement:

A year after the president signed an executive order to make our nation’s thousands of chemical plants safer to protect workers, first responders, and communities, very little has been accomplished. For example, the report to the White House from the executive order multi-agency Working Group postpones any new regulatory action for the next two and a half years (2016).

In April 2013, 15 people died and over 200 were injured when a fertilizer plant in West, Texas exploded, leveling an entire neighborhood and destroying schools. What happened at West is not unique; since the president took office, 75 people have died in chemical disasters.

The chemical industry, with their allies in Congress, has blocked reform at every turn. Now, for the first time in over a decade, our country has a chance to get it right.

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the Request For Information (RFI) in the Federal Register [http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/eo_improving_chem_fac.htm], which offers the public a chance to get involved and demand action.

The administration should move faster by using authorities it already has to implement new prevention-based regulations within the next 18 months (2015):

  • Put prevention first by requiring that chemical facilities use safer chemicals or processes wherever feasible;
  • Prioritize protection of the most vulnerable populations, including workers, nearby communities and first responders;
  • Modernize the OSHA Process Safety Management (PSM) standard, including continual safety improvements and the use of inherently safer technologies, and ensure that PSM facilities are registered in the EPA’s Risk Management Program;
  • Where safer processes are not available, enhance funding for emergency response, emergency planning, evacuation and possible relocation of impacted communities;
  • Ensure regular inspections of facilities, whistleblower protections for workers, and personnel surety provisions that protect workers’ rights.

Please contact the above-named people to reach labor, environmental justice, health, community and environmental leaders available to comment.

The Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters is composed of over 100 environmental justice, labor, public health, national security, and environmental organizations united in a call for President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency to take action now to protect workers and fenceline communities through prevention.

CONTACT

Nick Sifuentes, BerlinRosen: 646-200-5321, nick@berlinrosen.com

Brian Gumm, Center for Effective Government: 202-683-4812, bgumm@foreffectivegov.org

Stephenie Hendricks, Coming Clean: 415-299-9510, stephdh@gmail.com

Jennifer Kim, New Jersey Public Interest Research Group (PIRG): 734-657-6959, jkim@njpirg.org

Joaquin Sanchez, EJHA/Los Jardines Institute: 917-575-3154, joaquin.sanchezjr@gmail.com

Erin Bzymek, BlueGreen Alliance: 202-706-6916, erinb@bluegreenalliance.org

Diana Ruiz, Greenpeace: 202-319-2495, diana.ruiz@greenpeace.org

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Press Releases

Coalition Reacts to Interagency Report to the White House

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, June 6, 2014

Calls for Required Safeguards from Disasters Grow as Obama Administration Releases Report on Chemical Plant Safety and Security

Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters Releases Statement on Interagency Report to the White House on New Chemical Disaster Prevention Policies

 Over one hundred organizations have advocated for more than a decade for new safety standards at chemical facilities that would require high-risk plants to use safer available alternatives to eliminate catastrophic hazards. Today, an interagency working group composed of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released recommendations to President Obama in response to his August 1, 2013 executive order (13650), which directed them to modernize chemical plant safety and security policies. In response, the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters released the following statement:

While we are pleased the Working Group report included some of the recommendations made by the most endangered communities and workers, if the Obama Administration is serious about protecting workers and communities, the President must stand up for prevention requirements that include safer chemicals and processes. The people of West, Texas deserve better than the voluntary half-measures in today’s report. They, and millions of Americans like them, deserve real safeguards from the threat of chemical disasters that are adopted as enforceable requirements — not just voluntary recommendations that the industry can ignore until the next disaster. The true test of President Obama’s call to action will come with the EPA’s Request For Information (RFI), due to be issued in the federal register in the coming weeks.

The special interests that have blocked chemical facility disaster prevention policies for the last 30 years have had their way long enough. It is time for the President and federal agencies to move forward with strong and enforceable safeguards that prioritize the safety of the workers and communities most at risk.

We cannot wait for more disasters like West, Texas; Richmond, California; and Anacortes, Washington. Communities and workers should not be asked to put their lives and health at high risk one day longer than they already have.

The administration should move quickly by using authorities it already has to finalize the implementation of new prevention-based regulations within the next 18 months:

  • Put prevention first by requiring that chemical facilities use safer chemicals or processes wherever feasible;
  • Prioritize protection of the most vulnerable populations, including workers, nearby communities and first responders;
  • Modernize the OSHA Process Safety Management (PSM) standard, including continual safety improvements and the use of inherently safer technologies, and ensure that PSM facilities are registered in the EPA’s Risk Management Program;
  • Where safer processes are not available, enhance funding for emergency response, emergency planning, evacuation and possible relocation of impacted communities;
  • Ensure regular inspections of facilities, whistleblower protections for workers, and personnel surety provisions that protect workers’ rights.

The Coalition offered its specific recommendations to the interagency working group in a May 13 letter  calling on the Administration to put prevention and people first. Additional coalition policy recommendations can be found at:

https://preventchemicaldisasters.org/resources/epa-listening-session/

The Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters is composed of over 100 environmental justice, labor, public health, national security, and environmental organizations united in a call for President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency to take action now to protect workers and fenceline communities through prevention.

Please contact the below-named people to reach labor, environmental justice, health, community and environmental leaders available to comment:

Nick Sifuentes, BerlinRosen: 646-200-5321, nick@berlinrosen.com

Erin Bzymek, BlueGreen Alliance:  202-706-6916, erinb@bluegreenalliance.org

Stephenie Hendricks, Coming Clean: 415-258-9151, shendricks@comingcleaninc.org

Brian Gumm, Center for Effective Government: 202-683-4812, bgumm@foreffectivegov.org

Michele Roberts, Environmental Justice and Health Alliance: 202- 704-7593, robertsmichele7@gmail.com

Rick Hind, Greenpeace: 202-413-8513, rhind@greenpeace.org

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Press Releases

Environmental Justice and Health Alliance Statement on the Interagency Working Group Report

Environmental Justice and Health Alliance Statement on the Interagency Working Group Report on Chemical Facility Safety and Security

Contact: Stephenie Hendricks, Coming Clean
(415) 258-9151, shendricks@comingcleaninc.org

June 6, 2014

Chemical Disasters: Obama’s Task Force Announces Report Environmental Justice and Health Alliance Responds

It’s Time to Turn Words Into Action, Say Environmental Justice Leaders

(Washington, DC) This morning, the federal Interagency Working Group on Chemical Facility Safety and Security released its report to President Obama, which includes recommendations for actions to prevent chemical disasters like the April 2013 explosion in West, Texas that leveled an entire neighborhood. The recommendations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) were finalized following an extensive stakeholder process including public Listening Sessions around the country.

The Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform (EJHA) mobilized its thirty-two affiliate organizations in 12 states throughout the stakeholder process to demand that the federal government prioritize the safety of the communities and workers most at risk of chemical disasters and adopt strong requirements to prevent disasters through transition to safer chemicals and processes that already exist.

EJHA leaders reacted to the White House announcement and the Interagency Working Group report by promising to continue to hold the Administration’s feet to the fire until their communities see results on the ground that make them safer.
Richard Moore, Co-Coordinator of the EJHA and former Chair of EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, said: “It’s clear that the Working Group listened to the voices of the communities and workers most at risk of chemical disasters. There are recommendations in their report that can help prevent disasters if they are enacted. But words are not enough. The Administration now has to turn these words into actions – into regulations that are adopted within the next eighteen months.”

Michele Roberts, Co-Coordinator of the EJHA, said: “We need the President and federal agencies to support the environmental health rights of all people, especially the 3.8 million Americans who live in the fenceline zones closest to the most dangerous facilities. These communities, where people live every day in danger, have populations with much higher percentages of Black, Latino, and low-income people than the U.S. as a whole. Today, 20 years after the signing of the presidential executive order on environmental justice, and 50 years after the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, again we see that race is still a factor. That said, our communities must be constantly engaged as partners during this entire process.”

Juan Parras, Director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services in Houston, where dozens of high-risk chemical facilities endanger tens of thousands of residents who are disproportionately Latino and African-American, said, “We have to get beyond the false hope that industry will voluntarily protect us. We need federal requirements for facilities to convert to safer chemicals and technologies, period. Our communities have already waited too long, through disaster after disaster. It’s time for real action before the end of this Administration.”

On May 1, the EJHA released its own recommendations for policies to prevent chemical disasters as part of a new report called Who’s in Danger? Race, Poverty, and Chemical Disasters, co-authored with Coming Clean and the Center for Effective Government. The report found that more than 134 million Americans live in the chemical disaster vulnerability zones of 3,433 of the most dangerous facilities, and that 3.8 million live in the fenceline zones closest to potential disasters. The populations of these most dangerous fenceline zones are much more Black, Latino, and low income than the U.S. as a whole.

The complete Interagency Working Group report can be found at: https://www.osha.gov/chemicalexecutiveorder/final_chemical_eo_status_report.pdf

The Who’s in Danger? report and related materials are available at: http://www.ej4all.org/whos-in-danger-report
Background materials on environmental justice and chemical disasters are available at: http://louisvillecharter.org/ChemicalSecurityandEJ.shtml

For a list of spokespeople available to comment – see more here: http://comingcleaninc.org/whats-new/ejha-statement-iwg-report#sthash.p7OltTOj.dpuf

Press Releases

Press Statement from BlueGreenAlliance on Obama Administration Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Erin Bzymek, erinb@bluegreenalliance.org, 202-706-6916

STATEMENT: Obama Administration Report on Executive Order on Chemical Safety Lays Groundwork to Keep Workers, Communities Safe

WASHINGTON, DC (June 6, 2014) – After the announcement of an administration report to President Obama on his Executive Order on Chemical Safety, Charlotte Brody, RN, Vice President for Health Initiatives for the BlueGreen Alliance, released the following statement:

“The report to President Obama contains all of the components to make American workers and communities safer and to reduce the potential for tragedies like West, Texas. Now we need the president to add a strong dose of urgency to match the size of the problem and to focus his administration’s efforts on a strong implementation plan.

“Millions of Americans live near or work in chemical facilities that pose a risk to their safety and health. The recommendations in the report could improve the health and safety of every one of them. So we thank the administration for today’s report on the president’s Executive Order and look forward to working together with them, and with Congress, to turn it into a safer and healthier reality for all Americans. ”

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The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the clean economy. Launched in 2006, the strategic partnership now brings together major U.S. labor unions and America’s most influential environmental organizations and unites more than 15 million members and supporters in pursuit of good jobs, a clean environment and a clean economy.

Visit www.bluegreenalliance.org. Follow us on Twitter (@bgalliance) and like us on Facebook (Facebook.com/bluegreenalliance).