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News Release

EPA Administrator Pruitt Delays Safety Measures, Puts Workers and Fence-line Communities in Further Danger of Chemical Disasters

[Washington, D.C.] – Recently, Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), further delayed important safety improvements for thousands of hazardous chemical facilities which pose an immediate threat to millions of Americans. Pruitt’s decision to delay improvements to the Risk Management Plan (RMP) program, which have been under consideration for over three years, included numerous opportunities for industry input, and over 150,000 public comments, is contrary to public expectations across party lines. This delay further endangers first-responders, chemical facility workers, and the 134 million Americans who live fence-line to 12,500 chemical facilities managed under the RMP program. Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 19th, EPA will hold a public hearing to gather input on the delay of these RMP program improvements.

Responding to this delay and tomorrow’s public hearing, Michele Roberts, National Co-Coordinator of the Environmental Justice Health Alliance (EJHA) said, “EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt again demonstrated that his focus is on protecting the profits of chemical manufacturers and refineries, rather than protecting firefighters, emergency medical technicians, workers, and the lives of 134 million Americans living near dangerous chemical facilities. The West, Texas explosion reminded us that we can and should do more to prevent chemical disasters. And now, after nearly four years of consideration and over 150,000 people urging EPA to strengthen RMP, Administrator Pruitt is ignoring the public and putting Americans in danger by further delaying these important safety improvements. As Pruitt’s EPA continues to block these safety measures, chances continue to mount that Americans will die needlessly because Administrator Pruitt refuses to learn from past mistakes.”

Eboni Cochran, Co-Coordinator of Rubbertown Emergency Action (REACT) in Louisville, KY
, said, “My family, along with other families living in the pathway of hazardous chemicals, have been directly impacted by them and in danger for decades. We should not have to bear the burden of wondering daily if our government is going to be courageous enough to stand up to corporations who only look at their bottom line—while viewing us as expendable. Unfortunately, we now have an EPA administrator who appears to be putting the welfare of major corporations ahead of the health and safety of the people he’s supposed to be working for. Every day that EPA’s Scott Pruitt delays these important safety updates is another day that puts my family in unnecessary danger, and his actions to withhold critical information from firefighters and local emergency planning committees makes it more likely we’ll experience a disaster similar to West, Texas, where first-responders were put in harm's way because they didn’t have the information they needed to protect themselves."

According to EPA, in the past 10 years nearly 60 people died, some 17,000 were injured or sought medical treatment, and almost 500,000 were evacuated or sheltered-in-place as the result of accidental releases at chemical plants. During that time, more than 1,500 incidents were reported, which caused over $2 billion in property damages.

Some communities bear disproportionate risk associated with chemical disasters. A demographic analysis found that people of color and low-income communities are more often located near hazardous chemical facilities. The analysis found that the percentage of Blacks and Latinos living near hazardous chemical facilities is 75% and 60% greater (respectively) than the background average of the entire nation. The poverty rate near hazardous chemical facilities is 50% higher than the rest of the nation.

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The Environmental Justice Health Alliance (EJHA) organizes industry reform strategies for safer chemicals and clean energy that leave no community or worker behind. Find more about EJHA here: http://ej4all.org/

 
[Washington, D.C.] – Recently, Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), further delayed important safety improvements for thousands of hazardous chemical facilities which pose an immediate threat to millions of Americans. Pruitt’s decision to delay improvements to the Risk Management Plan (RMP) program, which have been under consideration for over three years, included numerous opportunities for industry input, and over 150,000 public comments, is contrary to public expectations across party lines. This delay further endangers first-responders, chemical facility workers, and the 134 million Americans who live fence-line to 12,500 chemical facilities managed under the RMP program. Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 19th, EPA will hold a public hearing to gather input on the delay of these RMP program improvements.

Responding to this delay and tomorrow’s public hearing, Michele Roberts, National Co-Coordinator of the Environmental Justice Health Alliance (EJHA) said, “EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt again demonstrated that his focus is on protecting the profits of chemical manufacturers and refineries, rather than protecting firefighters, emergency medical technicians, workers, and the lives of 134 million Americans living near dangerous chemical facilities. The West, Texas explosion reminded us that we can and should do more to prevent chemical disasters. And now, after nearly four years of consideration and over 150,000 people urging EPA to strengthen RMP, Administrator Pruitt is ignoring the public and putting Americans in danger by further delaying these important safety improvements. As Pruitt’s EPA continues to block these safety measures, chances continue to mount that Americans will die needlessly because Administrator Pruitt refuses to learn from past mistakes.”

Eboni Cochran, Co-Coordinator of Rubbertown Emergency Action (REACT) in Louisville, KY
, said, “My family, along with other families living in the pathway of hazardous chemicals, have been directly impacted by them and in danger for decades. We should not have to bear the burden of wondering daily if our government is going to be courageous enough to stand up to corporations who only look at their bottom line—while viewing us as expendable. Unfortunately, we now have an EPA administrator who appears to be putting the welfare of major corporations ahead of the health and safety of the people he’s supposed to be working for. Every day that EPA’s Scott Pruitt delays these important safety updates is another day that puts my family in unnecessary danger, and his actions to withhold critical information from firefighters and local emergency planning committees makes it more likely we’ll experience a disaster similar to West, Texas, where first-responders were put in harm's way because they didn’t have the information they needed to protect themselves."

According to EPA, in the past 10 years nearly 60 people died, some 17,000 were injured or sought medical treatment, and almost 500,000 were evacuated or sheltered-in-place as the result of accidental releases at chemical plants. During that time, more than 1,500 incidents were reported, which caused over $2 billion in property damages.

Some communities bear disproportionate risk associated with chemical disasters. A demographic analysis found that people of color and low-income communities are more often located near hazardous chemical facilities. The analysis found that the percentage of Blacks and Latinos living near hazardous chemical facilities is 75% and 60% greater (respectively) than the background average of the entire nation. The poverty rate near hazardous chemical facilities is 50% higher than the rest of the nation.

### 


The Environmental Justice Health Alliance (EJHA) organizes industry reform strategies for safer chemicals and clean energy that leave no community or worker behind. Find more about EJHA here: http://ej4all.org/

Available for Comment

Michele Roberts; Co-Coordinator, Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform; (202) 704-7593, mroberts@comingcleaninc.org. Michele can discuss the disproportionate impacts from toxic chemicals on communities of color.

Eric Whalen; Communications Coordinator, Coming Clean; (971) 998-8786, ericwhalen@comingclean.org.

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