Parents have an important opportunity to make our voices heard and to protect our communities from chemical disasters. In 2013, 15 people were killed and hundreds more injured when a chemical plant exploded in the town of West, Texas. Since then, hundreds of other communities have been affected by explosions, fires, and toxic leaks, but no new safety requirements have been put in place.
Finally, this Tuesday March 29th, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a long-awaited hearing to discuss a safety rule for chemical facilities. Let’s make sure it’s strong enough to protect our communities.
When moms think about toxic chemicals and our families, we often think about the chemicals we bring into our homes, such as cleaning products and food containers, and the day-to-day low-level exposures that may result.
But our families are also at risk of catastrophic, high-level chemical exposures.
Large quantities of toxic chemicals are stored at thousands of factories, water treatment plants, oil refineries, and other industrial sites in our country. In the almost unthinkable scenario of an explosion, a cloud of toxic gas could threaten literally thousands of people at a time. And children are especially at risk.
Nearly 10,000 schools lie within one mile of a dangerous facility. These facilities place one in ten children–4.6 million children in all 50 states–at risk of grave harm in the event of a chemical release due to accident, sabotage, or natural disaster.
In West, Texas, a fertilizer plant exploded in 2013, killing 15 people and destroying three schools. This is one example of the risks to communities and children. But despite the risks, very little has been done to prevent a chemical disaster.
Let’s change that. Join Moms Clean Air Force in DC on March 29th to urge the EPA to require a switch to safer chemicals and technologies.
Many safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals exist, but because facilities aren’t required to use safer chemicals or technologies when available, they continue with business as usual. Which involves placing millions of children at risk where they learn and play.
It’s time EPA requires hazardous chemical facilities to use safer chemicals and technologies. Because all kids deserve a safe place to learn, play, and grow.
But the EPA’s new rule, announced this month, doesn’t require a switch to safer chemicals and technology, and doesn’t do enough to prevent chemical disasters. On March 29, tell the Administration that the new rule should use commonsense measures to prevent disasters.
Despite regular leaks and explosions, the chemical industry insists that companies can regulate themselves. Every year, they spend tens of millions of dollars fighting measures designed to better protect workers and nearby communities.
This hearing gives us the opportunity to counter the booming voice of the industry and to use our collective voice to protect our children and communities from another chemical disaster.
Moms Clean Air Force will be meeting at 8:30 am outside the William Jefferson Building, 1201 Constitution Avenue, NW, for a photo opportunity. We would love to have you join us.
Interested in speaking? Moms Clean Air Force can provide testimony guidance and talking points.
- EPA Risk Management Plan (RMP)
- Proposed Changes to the RMP
- Executive Order on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security
The above post was adapted from this 2014 blog post by Molly Rauch.
Trisha Sheehan is the Deputy Field Manager for Moms Clean Air Force in the East. Prior to becoming the Deputy Field Manager, Trisha was the Northeast Regional Field Manager and New Jersey Field Organizer for Moms Clean Air Force. Trisha manages the field staff and volunteers in identified Eastern states, working with each staff member to develop and deploy state-level strategic plans to increase grassroot advocacy on key environmental issues. Trisha received her Masters of Business Administration with a B.S. in Marketing from Goldey-Beacom College in Delaware. She lives in New Jersey with her two young sons and enjoys running, cooking and spending time with her family.