Below are reports and other publications authored by coalition members, government agencies, and others related to the Risk Management Program and the need to strengthen chemical disaster regulations. You can filter reports by year.
(Material Research, 2023)
Since 2010, there have been at least 40 chemical incidents worldwide involving the production of vinyl chloride monomer and its derivative, polyvinyl chloride plastics. Reports reveal that these toxic chemical fires and explosions killed at least 71 people and injured 637 people.
The Fertilizer Boom: America's Rapidly Growing Nitrogen Fertilizer Industry and its Impact on the Environment and Public Safety
(Environmental Integrity Project, 2023)
The U.S. is experiencing a boom in the nitrogen fertilizer industry. But regulations have not kept pace. Ammonium nitrate, which is not regulated by the RMP, has been involved in at least 106 spills or accidental releases across the U.S. in the last decade. And the fertilizer industry contributes to both air and water pollution.
(Coming Clean and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform, 2023)
Over 829 hazardous chemical incidents — including fires, explosions and harmful chemical releases — have occurred since the beginning of 2021, and over 270 incidents have occurred this year alone, according to data published today by the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters. Data included in the coalition’s online Chemical Incident Tracker is sourced from news reports. “The majority of incidents that have occurred in this period — such as fires, explosions and chemical releases — can be traced to the toxic lifecycle of fossil fuels,” concludes the analysis. Hazardous chemical incidents are occurring with the most frequency in the oil and gas, and plastics and petrochemical manufacturing sectors.
Reducing the Potential Scope of Chemical Catastrophes in the U.S. Chemical Industry: Evidence from the EPA’s Risk Management Planning Program
(Paul Orum, 2022)
This brief explains how the EPA is missing an opportunity to collect information from facilities who deregister from the RMP, switch to safer processes, or reduce their vulnerability zones. If this information was required, the RMP program could generate practical opportunities to protect workers, emergency responders, and communities.
Chemical Accident Prevention: EPA Should Ensure Regulated Facilities Consider Risks from Climate Change
(Government Accountability Office, 2022)
Federal data indicates about 31% of RMP facilities are located in areas with certain natural hazards — like wildfires and storm surges — that may be worsened by climate change. EPA doesn't consistently assess how these facilities are managing risks from natural hazards and climate change.
Preventing Disaster: Three chemical incidents within two weeks show urgent need for stronger federal safety requirements
(Coming Clean, 2022)
This report profiles three chemical incidents that occurred in New Jersey, North Carolina, and Louisiana in January 2022, and recommends specific safety measures that the EPA should require in its Risk Management Program (RMP) rule in order to prevent future chemical disasters.
Preventing "Double Disasters." How the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can protect the public from hazardous chemical releases worsened by natural disasters
(Center for Progressive Reform, Earthjustice, and Union for Concerned Scientists, 2021)
It’s past time to address “double disasters” — hazardous chemical releases by industrial facilities that are worsened by inadequate action in the face of conditions of climate change and natural disasters. As the global climate crisis intensifies, coastal and inland communities are increasingly at risk of natural disasters. When industrial facilities in these communities fail to adequately prepare for natural disasters, hazardous chemicals stored onsite can ignite, explode, and there may be dangerous and even catastrophic releases that threaten the health and safety of workers and the public. This can lead to a cascading series of harms, including toxic chemical exposures, on top of the effects of the storm itself.
(Coming Clean, 2021)
This report profiles three facilities in Louisiana that put communities at risk by releasing toxic chemicals into the environment after being hit with high winds and flooding from Hurricane Ida, and recommends several ways the EPA could meaningfully update its Risk Management Program to prevent chemical disasters from happening in the future.
(Center for Progressive Reform, 2021)
Throughout most of the U.S., the public is not protected from spills and other disasters involving storage of hazardous chemicals — including toxic and flammable substances — in aboveground tanks. For decades, the EPA and most states have refused to act to protect the health and safety of workers and communities, as well as water and natural resources, from the threat of hazardous chemical tank fires, spills, and explosions.
(Union of Concerned Scientists, 2020)
About 2,000 official and potential Superfund sites — sites contaminated by extremely hazardous chemicals — are located within 25 miles of the East or Gulf Coast. As sea levels rise, many of these toxic sites are at risk of flooding.
(Earthjustice et al., 2018)
During the Trump Administration, legally required updates to the Risk Management Program (a.k.a. Chemical Disaster Rule) were delayed for years. On Nov. 21, 2019, the U.S. EPA unveiled a final RMP rule that rescinded existing prevention measures and weakened emergency response coordination and community information requirements. This report shows how these rollbacks are disastrous for communities across the country.
(Environmental Justice Health Alliance and Coming Clean, 2018)
This report shows that people on the fenceline of chemical facilities live under the threat of chemical disasters tend to have limited access to healthy food, and experience higher rates of cancer and respiratory illness. Fenceline zones around hazardous facilities are also disproportionately Black, Latino, and impoverished. This report focuses on key data nationally, and additional data for nine EJ communities: Los Angeles, as well as Kern, Fresno, and Madera counties, CA; Houston and Dallas, TX; Louisville, KY; Albuquerque, NM; and Charleston, WV.
(Center for Effective Government, 2016)
An analysis from the University of Chicago found that nearly 23 million residents – 7.5 percent of the total U.S. population – lived within one mile of an RMP facility in 2016. People of color make up nearly half the population in fenceline zones (11.4 million), but they are almost twice as likely as whites to live near dangerous chemical facilities. Nearly one in 10 U.S. schoolchildren (4.9 million) attends one of the 12,000 schools that are located within one mile of a dangerous chemical facility.
Eighty-six bleach plants across the country put 63.8 million people in danger of a potential worst-case release of chlorine gas, a substance so toxic it has been used as a chemical weapon. Bleach facilities often ship, receive, and store their chlorine gas in 90-ton rail cars that are typically left unattended en route or on site, making them vulnerable to accidents and acts of sabotage. But bleach plants can lower or eliminate risks by operating without bulk chlorine gas storage and transportation. This report includes recommendations to reduce the storage, transport, and use of chlorine gas.
Chemical Hazards in Your Backyarad: Do Your First Responders Have the Information They Need in an Emergency?
(Center for Effective Government, 2015)
This report examines the chemical reporting to states that occurs under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA), using a sample of six states, and the reporting to the EPA that was established under the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments and the federal Risk Management Program. It then looks at how well each one helps communities prevent and prepare for disasters.
Blowing Smoke: Chemical Companies Say “Trust Us,” But Environmental and Workplace Safety Violations Belie Their Rhetoric
(Center for Effective Government, 2015)
An investigation by the University of Chicago documents the shortcomings of our current chemical safety enforcement system. Only 42 percent of active facilities manufacturing chemicals were inspected in the years 2010–2012. Of those that were inspected, serious workplace safety and environmental violations were found at 25 percent of them.
Danger in the Dark: How Gov. Christie Helps Oil, Chemical, and Railroad Companies Cover Up Potential Catastrophes
(New Jersey Work Environment Council, 2014)
The Governor of New Jersey is responsible under federal law for ensuring that each of New Jersey’s counties and municipalities has an up-to-date Emergency Response Plan (ERP) to protect the public in the event of a chemical fire, explosion, or other toxic emergency. This report revealed that former Governor Chris Christie’s State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), composed of representatives of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection and the NJ State Police, has failed to ensure that counties and municipalities provide public access to Emergency Response Plans, as required by EPCRA.
Who's in Danger? Race, Poverty and Chemical Disasters, A Demographic Analysis of Chemical Disaster Vulnerability Zones
(EJHA and Coming Clean, 2014)
More than 134 million Americans live in the danger zones around 3,433 facilities in several common industries that store or use highly hazardous chemicals. But who are the people that live daily with the ever-present danger of a chemical disaster? This report presents research showing that residents of chemical facility “vulnerability zones” are disproportionately Black (African American) or Latino, have higher rates of poverty than the U.S. as a whole, and have lower housing values, incomes, and education levels than the national average. The disproportionate or unequal danger is sharply magnified in the “fenceline” areas nearest the facilities.
(United Steelworkers, 2013)
This report draws from survey data to show that the fifty refineries in the U.S. that use large volumes of highly concentrated hydrofluoric acid (HF) are doing a poor job of managing the risk of an HF release. Within a recent five-year span, study refineries had 293 violations of OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard regulating highly hazardous chemical operations. Over three-quarters of the site survey teams reported at least one HF-related incident or near miss in the previous three years. There must be fundamental change in the oil industry’s use of HF. The long-term solution is to replace HF alkylation with safer systems not requiring the use of so toxic a chemical.
(Management Information Services, Inc. for Greenpeace, 2010)
The Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009, which was passed by the House but not in the Senate, would have made the highest risk chemical plants subject to conditional requirements to use safer chemical processes. This analysis shows that, for many facilities, switching to safer alternatives would cost less than $1 million, and that converting to safer facilities would have a net positive impact on the economy and employment.
(Center for American Progress, 2008)
The only certain way to protect our communities is to remove the possibility of a toxic gas release by converting facilities to safer, more secure alternative technologies. This report identifies opportunities for conversions at the 101 most dangerous facilities, each of which threaten roughly 1 million people or more in surrounding areas. The chemicals most often posing the greatest danger at the top 101 facilities are chlorine—almost always in railcars—followed by hydrofluoric acid and sulfur chemicals.
Toxic Trains and the Terrorists Threat, How Water Utilities Can Get Chlorine Gas Off the Rails and Out of American Communities
(Center for American Progress, 2007)
Each year, thousands of tons of highly toxic chlorine gas travel by rail in the United States to drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities and other industries. A rupture of one of these railcars could release a dense, lethal plume for miles downwind, potentially killing or injuring thousands of people. The good news is this vulnerability can be removed. Since 1999, some 25 water utilities that formerly received chlorine gas by rail have switched to safer and more secure water treatment options, such as liquid bleach or ultraviolet light. These alternative treatment options eliminate the danger of a catastrophic toxic gas cloud. You can download a chart of the 554 facilities that switched to safer alternatives courtesy of the Center for American Progress.
Preventing Toxic Terrorism: How Some Chemical Facilities are Removing Danger to American Communities
(Center for American Progress, 2006)
CAP and partners conducted a survey to identify RMP facilities that have successfully removed unnecessary chemical dangers from our communities by switching to safer chemicals and processes. As of 2006, Some 284 facilities in 47 states have dramatically reduced the danger of a chemical release into nearby communities by switching to less acutely hazardous processes or chemicals or moving to safer locations.
Chemical accident risks in U.S. industry: A preliminary analysis of accident risk data from U.S. hazardous chemical facilities
(James Belke, US EPA, 2000)
Reviews laws and regulations impacting hazardous facilities and analyzes accidents, explains how to interpret each section of a Risk Management Plan, and provides a preliminary analysis of accidents reported by RMP facilities to the EPA.