Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Dangerous Dozen Chemical Companies Endanger Millions

So, if you live within sight of a chemical plant that uses chemicals capable of killing a million or more surrounding residents, what do you fear more: an accident in the plant or Saddam Hussein?

Using chemical companies' own estimates submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US PIRG has issued a report showing that twelve companies each endanger more than five million Americans in the event of accidents or terrorist attacks at their chemical facilities. Calling the companies the "Dangerous Dozen," PIRG points out that

Across the U.S., thousands of industrial facilities owned by companies such as Clorox, Dow and DuPont use and store hazardous chemicals in quantities large enough to threaten surrounding communities in the event of an accidental release or deliberate terrorist attack. The report, "Dangerous Dozen: A Look at How Chemical Companies Jeopardize Millions of Americans," analyzes the chemical companies' own estimates submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Findings include:

  • The 12 companies whose facilities endanger the most people are JCI Jones Chemical, The Clorox Company, Kuehne Chemical, KIK Corporation, DuPont, Pioneer Companies, Clean Harbors, GATX Corporation, PVS Chemicals, Dow Chemical, Ferro Corporation and Occidental.

  • The 12 parent companies profiled in Dangerous Dozen own 154 high-hazard facilities in 31
    different states.

  • The three companies whose facilities put the greatest number of people at risk are JCI Jones Chemical, The Clorox Company, and Kuehne Chemical, which put a total of more than 20 million, 14 million, and 12 million people at risk, respectively.

  • Since 1990, the National Response Center (NRC) has received more than 8,400 reports of incidents involving oil or chemical spills at facilities owned by these 12 parent companies.

As you may recall (here, here, here and here), the Bush administration is going along with its friends in the chemical industry and the American Chemistry Council who would like to depend on voluntary compliance by the chemical industry, instead of regulations that would force chemical companies to substitute safer chemicals and processes where feasible.

Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ) has introduced legislation (S. 157) which, shortly after 9/11 was passed unanimously by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee committee. Corzine's bill would have required chemical plants to do a hazard assessment and consider the introduction of inherently safer technologies. The bill was later killed by Senate Republicans at the urging (and $4.3 million of lobbying) of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), in addition to $4.3 million spent on lobbying. According to PIRG, six of the 12 companies profiled in Dangerous Dozen are ACC members.

Money talks, safety walks. And this is the administration allegedly trusted by a majority of the American public to provide for our homeland security?